Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Nymphos of Rocky Flats: Sex, Lies & Vampires, Oh My!

The cover you're most likely to find
in book stores.
Felix Gomez is a private detective.   A former soldier of the war in Iraq.  And a vampire.

Straying from the typical novels about the undead, and being neither too graphic or too sappy, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo is also not a title you'd expect from a vampire novel, either.  Sure, it's catchy.  And it's certainly attention-getting.  But it doesn't exactly scream vampire, does it?
It's for that reason that I've ignored the works of Mr. Acevedo up until a few weeks ago.  When casually browsing amongst the fantasy/sci-fi section at Borders I happened to glance at the cover (which is incidentally a new one, truth be told) and saw a fang.  To which my heart did a flip-flop and I quickly grabbed the book off the shelf like there were twenty other vamp lovers breathing down my neck (there weren't). 

Reading the back cover had me a bit befuddled.  Vampires. Covert military missions. Secret government cover-ups.  Nymphomanics.  Wait...huh?  Always down for something unique, I snatched the book up and started it straightaway once home. 

Turns out Felix is a pretty funny guy...well, vampire.  Though he's a bit melancholy due to the circumstances of his transformation:  a soldier in Iraq, he mistakenly shoots an innocent Iraqi family and watches as a young girl dies in front of him - only to be then bitten by an ancient vampire who gives Felix the opportunity to always feel sorry for himself by changing him into the immortal damned.  But Felix has a good sense of humor, and tries to do good by investigating crimes (albeit mostly petty, forgettable ones) with the help of his preternatural skills.  Just hypnotize the suspect with your vampiric glare and make them tell you who they were screwing around on their wife with.  Easy-peasy.

When an old friend asks him to seek info about a so-called classified military link to a recent outbreak of - you guessed it - nymphomania, Felix is off to the Rocky Flats Plant - a former nuclear weapons facility in Denver - to poke around a bit.

The original cover
His shenanigans are quite humorous at times, as he struggles to keep his identity as a vampire secret.  He is blessed with the usual undead benefits, like the aforementioned glamouring victims - but alas, he has to remove his 'these-make-my-eyes-look-human' contacts first. Not always easy when the suspect is looking right at you.  He also has an aversion to drinking human blood, due to the horrific circumstances in which he was responsible for the Iraqi family's death.  He can't get over it, and is content to gulp down coffee spiked with goat's blood (his favorite), or chow down on some pasta coated with bull's blood. 
However, the fact that he doesn't indulge in human plasma presents another problem.  He is losing some of his vampire abilities and strengths.  A fact he doesn't want his friends (read: superiors) at the Araneum (the secret global network of vampires that oversee "all") to know. 

But Felix isn't completely helpless.  He manages quite well, actually - and even acquires the help of a lovely young female -who's not entirely human herself - to make the chore of finding out just what the hell the government is hiding out there in the Flats just a little less of a task.

When starting this novel, I had a bit of a fear that it would be a bunch of military mumbo-jumbo and government jargon that I wouldn't understand, but after about two pages in, I was hooked.  There are a lot of laugh out loud moments here, but also a fair amount of guns, blood, and danger.  I can't call it strictly humor at all - it is a nice blend of intrigue, vampire mythos, and wit.  The book's plot isn't predictable, and I wasn't exactly sure where it was headed, which is a good thing.  Sometimes it almost felt like Fox Mulder should be right around the corner.  While I wouldn't classify it as a sci-fi novel, it does have a lot of science fiction elements, and the ending most definitely slides that way. 

Best of all, it was just a flat-out fun read, and a nice change for me.  I'm quite a paranormal fan (Sookie Stackhouse is a personal fave) so Acevedo's book felt like a "guy's book" to me.  'Course it was written by a dude who was a former infantry and aviation officer, so guys will feel right at home here.

I've just started book 2 in the series, which for those who are interested is entitled:  "X-Rated Bloodsuckers". 
At least you know that's a vampire novel, right?


Zachary Kelley said...

This sounds pretty interesting and right up my alley, gonna have to check it out.

Have you read Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends or You Suck! ?

Christine Hadden said...

Yes! I have read Moore's vamp novels, all but the newest (Bite Me) - they are a blast!

And I think Acevedo will be perfect for you, cuz!

Zombie Mom said...

Oddly this book is on my night stand at this exact moment, the older cover version....

Budd said...

The title is very misleading. I thought the vampires were much too powerful. It was kind of genre blurring. The military stuff at the beginning was really good and the book did keep my attention the whole way through.

Christine Hadden said...

Mindy - Great minds once again think alike ;)

Budd - Ahh, I like powerful vamps... but then again, I'm a vampire fiend.

Anonymous said...

I usually try to steer clear of vampire novels these days (the Twilight phenomenon just puts a bad taste in my mouth), but this looks like it's got enough intriguing aspects that I might check it out... thanks for the rec!

Christine Hadden said...

Joanna, I have to say - just about EVERY vampire novel these days is better than Twilight. There's a lot of quality stuff out there that doesn't make you want to bang your head against a wall :)