The world of the bibliophile and the vampire merge in Monahan's chronicle of Vincent DeVilbiss, a 500-year-old defrocked priest with a few bad habits. For the most part, he lives the life of a gentleman and a scholar. However, his interest in women ranges from the erotic to the gastronomic, and from time to time he's prone to various acts of mayhem. Modern-day sunscreen lotions, contact lenses, and other benefits of technology allow him full access to the daytime world. DeVilbiss has been commanded to destroy two ancient scrolls, recently acquired by Princeton University, that pose a danger to demonic overlords far more dangerous than he. Librarian Simon Penn becomes increasingly at risk as he learns about the scroll's forbidden knowledge; eventually, he is matched against the vampire in a final confrontation. As the story unfolds, the church takes a few lumps as an organization not necessarily functioning in the best interests of humanity. Monahan does a credible job of creating the raison d'etre for the existence of vampires. Stylish, well-crafted fiction with veins of dark humor; this is a book you can sink your teeth into.
A vampire at Princeton! Do you long for a horror novel full of bookish but lively, intelligent people (no thuggish middlebrows!), and a piano-playing, 500-year-old vampire whose great earthly love is for Bach and a classically beautiful (let's say ideally erotic) womana vampire who is himself only semimortal (a once-a-week bloodsucker who nonetheless fearlessly wolfs down richly marbled cheeseburgers with deep-fat fried potatoes drowned in ketchup while pitying the early death of others seated about him in an arterially disastrous restaurant), yes, a gent with a gusto for dead languages whose great herbal remedies knock out flu viruses and open your nasal passages so you can float into a good night's sleep and who doesn't believe in talking with the dead, though he fakes it expertly for a living, and so on? Well, after a slippery, slightly banal opening, Monahan (DeathBite, 1979not reviewed) finds his footing and goes the distance like a seasoned aerialist. Under orders from Below, Vincent DeVilbiss's mission is to take out peacemakers and folks who might lessen the hell of earthly life. What better place than the Princeton think-tank? He sets himself up there as a psychic in residence, since even a superstrong vampire who can bound like a leopard has to earn his bread. When Frederika Vanderveen, a beautiful man-eater who lives alone in her late father's big house, comes to DeVilbiss for help in making peace with dad, DeVilbiss pretends that it can be done but that she'll have to pay him by getting him access to an ancient leather manuscript in the highly protected Rare Manuscripts room. The manuscript has dangerous necromancy written on it that the Bad Guy wants burnt.Luckily, Frederika has just taken in young Simon Penn, a rare-books curator, and goes to work on him. But Simon has a brain of his own and seeks her release from psychic disorder while Vincent prepares her for...hmm, long life. Enrapting!