Rome 1959. Along the Via Veneto, the living and the dead enjoy la dolce vita, as the vampires, intellectuals, conspirators, jet-setters and swindlers of Europe gather in an endless round of indulgence and gaiety, dancing giddily to the music of the Dracula Cha Cha Cha. The Vampire King, in Italian exile, is to be married to a Moldavian princess, and rumours circulate that his wedding will be the first move in a campaign to return him to his position as Lord of the Undead and a power in the world. In the eternal city, three corpses in the Fontana di Trevi lead three vampire women towards the destinies of their hearts. A flamboyant murderer stalks the elder vampires of the city, perhaps intent on wrecking the Royal Marriage; an undead British secret agent with a license to kill is swept up in a titanic conflict with the supernatural agents of Smersh; a living American opportunist sees a way of surviving as a parasite upon the dead; and a creature older even than Count Dracula is awakened to decide the fates of lovers and monsters. From the author of Anno Dracula and The Bloody Red Baron comes this novel of horror and mystery, romance and intrigue.
©2012 Kim Newman (P)2012 Audible Ltd
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
A reviewer described this as La Dolce Vita with vampires. It's so true. Watch the movie if you haven't seen it, then dive in. Add in a high profile (undead) superspy and a two huge twists to the mystery at hand (which I won't give away), and what you've got is a worthy addition to the Anno Dracula line. As with the first two, the more you know about the Wold Newton Universe (go ahead, look it up) or all of the classic / bad / classically bad books or movies you can think of, the better and better it gets. The internet makes it easy to get lost in all of the popular and obscure pop culture references, and the story is fun on every level of knowledge about it.
The caveat I have with this, and the same goes with the previous books... the audio version doesn't have the backup story. Listen to the audio, but pick up the print copy. You'll be glad you did because the backup tale is about a third as long as the original tale in each case.
I'm always surprised that Kim Newman isn't a more popular and well known author as I always find his books accessible and entertaining. I have to say that this one is not my favourite in this series but it is a decent novel nevertheless (I prefer my vampires to be more inhuman and bloodthirsty than retrospective and esoterical).
I understand there are some other short stories in this Dracula series but I don't think they are integral to this storyline and Newman uses Dracula Cha Cha Cha to complete this series in a thoughtful and intelligent manner. Skipping from the horrors of First World War trench warfare to Rome in 1959 avoids the obvious and easy route of using the second world war as a vehicle for monsters. For a vampire novel there is comparatively little bloodletting and Newman uses his skill in dropping a mixture of real and fictional names, places and events to allow the reader to have a warm feeling of smugness when picking up on the in-jokes without feeling frustrated knowing there are many you have missed!
I wouldn't recommend coming at this book without having read the first two, Anno Dracula and the Bloody Red Baron as, in modern TV series parlance, this is a conclusion to a story arc but if you have spare credits knocking about the three make a series worth reading.
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