Written by Mary Ann Mitchell
Published by Leisure Books
Poor Justin. His beloved Madeline has moved out of the Paris loft they shared without leaving behind a note or any sort of explanation. He suspects she has returned to a former lover. To make matters worse, there’s a killer on the loose who shows all the signs of being a vampire and is a threat to the blood-suckers who live peacefully in the city under the general population’s radar. Shortly after Madeline’s disappearance, Justin, who just so happens to be a half-human vampire himself, is approached by Gerard, a vampire elder looking to strike a deal with him. If Justin will seek out and destroy the killer – be it vampire or human, Gerard will help him find Madeline’s ex-lover, the infamous Marquis de Sade, now a vampire as well.
Poor Marquis. Instead of sharing hours of S&M fun with Madeline as Justin imagines, he has his hands full dealing with his vivacious, do-gooder daughter Lilliana and her not-to-be-trusted grandmother Marie. Meanwhile, Marie and Justin have some history of their own, not the least of which involves her stealing the body of Justin’s vampire mother, whom he had previously killed.
Poor reader. What could have been a completely engrossing and blood-soaked tale of sex, fangs, and sadism is instead little more than a souped-up romance novel that tries to pass itself off as a full-fledged entry into the realm of horror lit without being either scary or atmospheric. In the Name of the Vampire is the sixth book in Mary Ann Mitchell’s Marquis de Sade Saga, and while I haven’t read any of the others, I can’t imagine them being much more fulfilling. Usually an author becomes more adventurous during the course of a series, not more restrained. This book reminded me of Hollywood’s latest PG-13 horror craze: Instead of being on the page, all the good stuff like biting and torture was just out of sight. It was something to be talked about by the characters after the fact but not experienced by the reader. I don’t know about anybody else, but when I read a book with the Marquis de Sade as a major player, I expect some playtime – the darker and dirtier the better. And he’s a vampire to boot?!? Talk about a missed opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong. In the Name of the Vampire is a very well written work. The dialogue is snappy and intelligent and most of the characters compelling. It captured my attention from the very first pages and didn’t let go. Until about two thirds of the way through. That’s when I started feeling cheated by the lack of vamp action. Justin was an engaging, conflicted hero torn between two worlds, but I wasn’t too fond of Madeline once I learned the reason behind her leaving him. Her behavior couldn’t have been more cliché. I found several of the peripheral characters such as the aforementioned Lilliana; Jean, the husband and father of two of the killer’s victims; and Jacques, an artist who taught Madeline prior to her disappearance and was an all-around stud in the bedroom to be much more deserving of the spotlight. I also wanted to know more about Justin’s background and what led him to become a hunter and destroyer of his own kind. But the main thing I was hoping to find in In the Name of was some of the darkness and wrath of the Marquis de Sade promised on the back cover. And it just didn’t materialize.
In fairness to Ms. Mitchell, I do intend to pick up the first book in the series, The Vampire de Sade, to see if perhaps In the Name of the Vampire is simply a misstep and she really does know how to deliver all the gory, erotic goodness fans of both vamps and the Marquis crave. Her style is exactly what I look for in a book these days – short chapters with interweaving storylines one can read on the go, but if her other volumes are as tame as In the Name of, my interest is the first thing that will be gone.
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