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Vampire books are hard to kill. No matter how thin these children-of-the-night may get, there always seems to be someone willing to cough up the few drops of blood necessary to keep the corpse from decaying completely. This particular vampire book deserves a stake through its heart out of simple mercy. It has clearly suffered enough.

The two lead vampires are named Andrew Gabriel and Craven Maxwell. Can you guess which one is the good guy and which one is the bad guy? One just wants to lead a nice, quiet un-life with his new human girlfriend. The other is plotting to become President of the United States, replace all the major world leaders with bloodsuckers and enslave humanity as a docile food supply. They just happen to be half-brothers and they just happen to be first and second in command of the secret worldwide vampire society. Hence, vampire royalty.

The story is set in some unspecified near future in which the United States is in the middle of some unspecified social collapse. Most of the action takes place in Washington, DC during and immediately after a presidential election.

The author is a professional psychotherapist, but she shows no interest in exploring the psychology of either vampires or humans. The female lead, Victory Parker (jeez), is so cardboard it’s unlikely that a vampire could get any nutrition from her at all.

Then there is the small matter of the prose. It bites. It sucks. Not in a vampiric way either. Addicted to the introductory sub-clause, the second half of a sentence never quite seems to match the lead-in. Picking up the book at random, this clunky construction will annoy the reader on every page. Turning this hunt into a drinking game, you could be utterly smashed by Chapter Three.

This is supposed to be at least partly a work of erotica, but Hoffman’s foursquare, double-breasted, order-in-the-court writing style makes the sex scenes into ridiculous exercises.

Consider this: “Lost in waves of desire, she clung to him as he possessed her. His kiss promised ecstasy, eternity, and completion. In his arms were security, serenity, and the knowledge that her life had been spent waiting for this man. Nothing but this bond mattered. As she exploded, time ceased and shattered into a million fragments, only to be reconstructed again within his embrace.”

And that’s just a kiss. Wait until you get to the actual sex.

You want to know the scariest thing about this book? It’s the first in a proposed series. Now that’s the stuff of nightmares. (Derek Winkler)

Fiction, 288 pgs, by Valerie Hoffman, $11.95, American Legacy Books, PO Box 1393, Washington DC, 20013,

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