Reviewed by Mr. Dark
Written by Trevor O. Munson
Published by Titan Books
I’d like to take you back to a time of magic and wonder. A time when the world was innocent, when things were still pure and natural. A time before the corruption, the loss of innocence, before the horror became real. Before the body glitter and grandmas lusting after underage wolfboys.
Yes, I’m talking about the time before Twilight became the all-consuming plague that has devoured almost everything involving bloodsuckers. Join me back in that time and turn on your TV. You’ll find a show on CBS that won a People’s Choice award in 2008 called Moonlight.
It was a show about a vampire named Mick St. John who was a private detective in Los Angeles. While similar in setup to the Whedon series Angel, the tone and content were very different. Blending the tone and sensibilities of PI shows of the past and adding a reworked vampire mythos with a hearty helping of romance, Moonlight took vampires and made them palatable to mass market audiences in a way we hadn’t seen before.
Despite a rabid fan base, however, CBS canceled the show after the first season, just as Twilight hit the movie screens and the reign of terror began.
There’s an interesting story to the creation of that series that we find ourselves living in right now. Resurrected from the very beginnings of the Moonlight universe is Angel of Vengeance, the novel that inspired the series, yet never saw the light of day. Until now.
Author Trevor Munson wrote Angel of Vengeance after spending most of his career in feature film scriptwriting. After finishing the novel, he decided to pitch the tale as a series, which became Moonlight. The novel sat on the shelf, unpublished.
Thankfully, Titan has brought Angel of Vengeance back from the dead, and I’m very glad they did.
Angel of Vengeance is dramatically different than Moonlight. Other than some character names and some similarities in the overall mythos, they’re entirely different animals. Angel of Vengeance is a detective noir novel, a straight-up mash-up of Dashiell Hammett and Bram Stoker. The lingo, the femme fatale, the classic car, the fedora, it’s all here.
Angel of Vengeance follows Mick Angel (name changed for the show for obvious reasons), a vampire turned in the 1940’s who has since been making a living as a private detective. His personal code requires him to prey on the guilty, not the innocent, and his line of work provides him with a buffet on the seamier side of Hollywood.
While the book takes place in the present, Mick is definitely stuck in the 40’s and 50’s. He doesn’t have a cell phone, drives the car he bought new 50 years before, and still calls women ‘dames’. Just like that bygone era of detective fiction, the story is told from Mick’s point of view, with his narration driving the tale along.
This is a lean and mean book at 240 pages, wasting no time jumping into the tale at hand. It all starts with a dame, a burlesque dancer who hires Mick to find her runaway sister. The chase takes him through many of the common tropes of noir fiction: seedy clubs, parties with Hollywood producers, back alley brawls, and of course a conspiracy that’s much bigger than the simple gumshoe trying to make it another day in the City of Angels.
Fans of the TV series will find a lot to love here. It’s kind of fun noting all of the elements that wound up in the show, such as Mick’s wife, Coraline, and his freezer sleeping habits. However, even if you hated the show, you might find a good time here. This is a very violent and dark horror novel. Mick is dealing with bad people doing bad things, and he’s definitely more interested in working things out with his fists and teeth than his TV counterpart. Romance is also of the noir variety, the inevitable attraction to his comely client. The character of Beth was one of the major changes from novel to show so don’t expect Mick to spend time pining for anything other than a time when people didn’t put their phones in their pockets.
I’m hoping Munson uses this new book as a jumping off point for a series. While I found the adventures of Mick St. John to be pretty decent television, I enjoyed following Mick Angel around the dirty Hollywood streets quite a bit more.
4 out of 5