At the turn of the 20th century, a former spy is called into service to hunt down a vampire killer.
Once a spy for Queen Victoria, James Asher has fought for Britain on every continent, using his quick wits to protect the Empire at all costs. After years of grueling service, he marries and retires to a simple academic’s life at Oxford. But his peace is shattered one night with the arrival of a Spanish vampire named Don Simon. Don Simon can disappear into fog, move faster than the eye can see, and immobilize Asher - and his young bride - with a wave of his hand. Asher is at his mercy, and has no choice but to give his help.
Because someone is killing the vampires of London, and James Asher must find out who - before he becomes a victim himself.
©1988 Barbara Hambly (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
X Files Freak
I read the book years ago and was most taken with Don Isidro, the vampire. I'm not a vampire lover in terms of books. However Don Isidro had some of the human characteristics he had in life such as honesty. He was, however a bit of a snob at times, having been born into Spanish aristicracy 300 or so years prior to the events in this book. I also like Professor James Asher even though he seemed to be a bit old for having been a spy. All in all, this was a good book. It kept my attention throughout.
Yes. To pay closer attention to he clues to the mystery that I might have missed the first time.
It compares favorably to Stoker's Dracula in terms of the period feel and the subtle and overt deadliness of the vampires.
His perfect characterization of the different voices.
A vampire novel that deserves a high place among the classics of the genre. I was consumed from the first pages and read long into the night as the ending neared.
It is the dawn of the 20th Century and James Asher, Oxford professor whose mild manner conceals a past as a spy for the Crown, discovers the night holds more terrors than he imagined when he returns home to find his household tranced into unconsciousness and a centuries-old vampire awaiting him.
Someone is killing the vampires of England. The murderous drinkers of blood are no longer safe, and may sink into their daytime sleep only to be impaled and beheaded. The society of the undead recruit and task Asher to track down these vampire hunters so they may be dispatched and the vampires can resume their unnatural lives of murdering innocent people in peace. Should Asher balk at his new directive, his loved ones’ lives are forfeit.
With the assistance of his wife, Lydia, a doctor and keen researcher, his investigation takes him deep into the underworld of the undead as they stalk their prey and are now stalked in turn. Asher will trail the vampire hunters, fully aware that not only is his quarry dangerous, but his vampiric employers are likely to dispose of him once he is no longer useful.
Not merely a vampire novel, but a detective novel, a spy novel, a Victorian suspense thriller, and a masterpiece of historical fantasy. Hambly embraces the tropes of vampirism and makes use of them in her own unique way, then goes further, with additional and logically extrapolated originality that takes the story to wholly unexpected places. I don’t dare write more for fear of spoilers.
Suffice it to say that Hambly captures the progress of the vampire living through history to rival Anne Rice, without ever being bogged down or losing the action and suspense of the plot, although the author’s delight in the history and environs of London and Paris that Asher explores comes through.
And by the time the mystery is fully revealed, the reader gets a hint of an entirely new and different story going on behind the scenes, one that may easily continue in future installments.
But it is the main characters of James and Lydia Asher themselves who stand out as one of the best husband-and-wife detective teams in the genre of supernatural investigation.
Lovers of mystery and historical fantasy will particularly relish finding the pieces of this puzzle and fitting them together.
Special recognition to Gildart Jackson, who narrated the audiobook. His voice suited the tale perfectly and lent layers of meaning to the characters and their interactions.
Excellent match of narrator to book. Hope the entire series will be done in audiobook format.
Audiobooks make everything I do, fun!
This book is a perfect read for me. The vampires are old school scary, and our hero's are erudite and believable. (It reminded me of the first time I read "Interview with the Vampire." It's that good!) So I was very thrilled to find this series.
The story takes place around the turn of the century in London, with all the foggy atmospherics you'd expect. Horse drawn carriages still ply the cobbled streets, and rolling fog hides all manner of predators. From the streets and alleys of London to an old cemetery and the catacombs in Paris, the adventure starts with a bang and doesn't stop until the last page. I don't want to give anything away, so just trust me -- if you enjoyed Anne Rice, you'll love Barbara Hambly's John Asher series. It is so well written that I find myself having to shake off the creeps by listening to something else before bedtime, (and I'm a big girl who doesn't scare easily).
Gildart Jackson is perfection. I'd never listened to anything by him before, and I'm now a big fan. So much so that I've started the 2nd book, and can't wait for Audible to add the rest of the series. (Just as Laura Kinsale's books are greatly enhanced by the reading of Nicholas Boulton, I can't imagine John Asher being read by anyone but Gildart Jackson.)
I have to say something about Barbara Hambly. I don't know who this lady is, but she can write beautifully. Her command of language, world building and character creation is some of the best I've ever read. I know Anne Rice has received many accolades, but Barbara Hambly can write rings around Rice, and deserves a much wider audience.
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