"Twists, turns and double-dealing turn this fast-paced vampire mystery into an excellent adventure."
Reviewed by Vicky Gilpin
Posted February 13, 2010
Fantasy Urban | Thriller Paranormal - Supernatural
One of the primary rules for the supernatural community is
for each faction not to get involved in the affairs of
other groups. Therefore, when vampire PI Felix Gomez is
called in on a case by a werewolf alpha, he refers to the
code. However, he discovers that a war of the werewolves
may cause a great war that breaks the silence of the Great
Secret and alerts humans to the supernatural community
lurking in their midst. There are only so many murder
attempts Felix can take, particularly while in the company
of werewolves, before the situation feels personal: one.
Twists, turns, and double-dealing turn this fast-paced
mystery into an excellent adventure where no one is safe.
Felix Gomez, Latino vampire detective extraordinaire,
tackles a dangerous werewolf cabal in the fifth installment
in Mario Acevedo's satirical supernatural series
A sure-to-be-bloody civil war is brewing between rival
werewolf factions, and P.I . Felix Gomez will do anything he
can to make sure it doesn't explode into a vicious battle
that engulfs all creatures, living and dead.
Between that, the sudden reappearance of an ex-girlfriend,
and a gang of other vampires trying to take off his head,
this is one rumble even a fanged detective extraordinaire
may not be able to handle.
“Felix, I want him dead.” Eric Bourbon held up a severed
head. The head belonged to a Caucasian man in his early
thirties. By the musky taint of the cadaver reek, the victim
had been more than a man--he was a werewolf in human form. A
The eyelids were hooded, the cleanly shaven jaw slack, the
pale lips opened slightly, the waxy complexion bleached from
the loss of blood. The neck was a ragged stump that had been
gnawed off the shoulders. A diamond earring glittered in the
left ear lobe.
I said, “He looks pretty dead to me.”
“Not him.” Bourbon dropped the head into a large Tupperware
bowl on his desk and wiped his hand with a kerchief. He
shuffled photos from a manila file folder and pointed to the
top photo. “Him. His name is Randolph Calhoun,” Bourbon
explained in a melodious Southern drawl, the inflection
equally polite and condescending.
As I took the photos, he dropped the kerchief over the
severed head, fit the lid back on the bowl, and worked the
edges to seal in the freshness. He opened a desk drawer and
pulled out a can of room deodorizer.
I sat back in my chair to avoid getting misted with the
scent of spring meadow and studied the inkjet photos of
Calhoun. Bourbon dumped the room deodorizer back into the
Calhoun sported a helmet of black hair with graying temples.
Dapper whether in boating clothes or a tux, but with his
wrinkles and slack jowls, he looked like the has been love
interest in a soap opera. His physique varied from trim to
paunchy. I arranged the photos in the order from slim to
heavy and noticed the accumulating wrinkles and gray hair
that accompanied his weight gain. The pictures had been
taken at social events, always with people huddling close to
absorb the warmth of his charismatic smile.
“Is he one of you?” By that I meant werewolf.
Bourbon grinned in acknowledgement, radiating a hungry,
predatory demeanor. His eyes shined with a wolfish glint
from pink, wrinkled sockets. When I first saw them, I'd
thought of sphincters.
I have seen werewolves before. As long as they stayed out of
my way, I stayed out of theirs. I never bothered mentioning
them for the same reason I never said anything about skunks
Bourbon dressed like a were used to spending money, most
certainly someone else’s. He wore a trim white shirt with
blue pinstripes and monogrammed cuffs. The shirt creased
sharply over the angles of his athletic torso. A silk tie
complemented his shirt and gold jewelry. His blond hair,
short on the sides, was separated with a razor-meat part.
We sat in his office on the third floor of a commercial
building on Broad Street in Charleston, South Carolina. A
sky of azure blue filled the one picture window. The walls
displayed his J.D. from the University of South Carolina. A
framed illustration from the weekly City Pages showed Eric
Bourbon, Attorney at Law, leering above a cartoon map of the
Charleston peninsula. I'd done my homework on him and was
familiar with the article. (But my homework wasn't thorough
enough. I'd missed his being a werewolf until I walked past
his were bodyguards out in the hall.) The newspaper had
slammed Bourbon for having the opportunistic scruples of a
His reply: “You don't get in the legal business to make
I'd come here thinking this would be a case of
straightforward PI work. I wanted nothing that had to do
with my previous assignments involving the paranormal, both
the successes and the screw-ups.
No alien conspiracies. No political intrigue on behalf of
the AraneumLatin for spider web--the worldwide secret
network of vampires. No supernatural hoodoo. Two thousand
just to hear Bourbon pitch his case. No refunds.
Strictly gumshoe hustling for money.
But I was wrong.
Bourbon hadn't sought me out because I was from out of town
and off the local radar. He wanted a special detective. A
vampire detective. Me.
I returned to one photo in Calhoun’s file, that of a buff
young brunette sheathed in a paint-thin green dress with a
plunging neckline. She clung to Calhoun’s left arm, the one
that had a prosthetic with metal claws instead of a hand.
I turned the photo around for Bourbon to examine. “Full moon
comes around, how does a three-legged werewolf mount his
harem of were-bitches?”
His lips quivered as he fought back a snarl. Bourbon paid
for my time, the sarcasm was gratis.
I asked, “What about Calhoun’s arm?” If werewolves were like
their natural wild brethren, they kept a strict hierarchy.
Any weakness would be challenged. That the disfigured
Calhoun was able to keep his place at the front of the chow
line, accompanied by a fine specimen like the one in this
photo, meant he was definitely one bad ass. Bourbon folded
his hands on the desktop and kneaded his fingers. “He’s an
Iraq war hero like you. Held the rank of commander in the
Navy Seabees. A roadside bomb chewed him up. Lucky son of a
bitch lived, unfortunately.”
“Was he a werewolf at the time?” Getting medical treatment
could've revealed his shape-shifter nature.
“He was,” Bourbon answered, “and the weres over there kept
his identity hidden.” We vampires had similar arrangements
at protecting the Great Secret, the existence of the
supernatural world. What protected us vampires--and
werewolves, too -- from being discovered by humans was their
belief that we supernaturals were nothing but myth. After I
was turned in Iraq, a vampire colonel in the field hospital
made sure no one found out what I'd been turned into.
So Calhoun was a fellow veteran of our time in the sandbox.
If we met, our shared experience was worth a nod, maybe a
drink and a couple of war stories but nothing more.
I was here from Denver on Bourbon’s dime so I owed him my
attention. He wanted my services as a private detective. So
far I didn't know much about the case except for the final
payout: fifty thousand dollars. Cash. I might be an undead
bloodsucker, but I like money. Especially big steaming piles
I pointed to the head in the Tupperware. “What does this
have to do with Mr. Where’s-My-Body?”
“He worked for me.”
“Let me guess,” I said. “Calhoun killed this guy.”
“Had him killed. Same thing.”
I asked, “What about the police?”
“If I wanted to involve the police, why would I ask for you?”
“Then this business with Calhoun is about revenge?”
“I wish it was that simple,” Bourbon replied. “How much do
you know about us?”
I again pointed to the head. “You mean him and you? Not
much. Except he’s dead and you like keeping his head as a
“I meant werewolves. Though you and I are both supernatural,
we live in different cultures. Unlike you vampires,
relationships among us are very important.”
I put an equally dismissive spin in my reply. “Important
enough for you guys to murder each other? Please don't
invite me to any family reunions.”
Bourbon gave me a you’re-a-shit-for-brains smile. “Our
relationships can get complicated. I'll try to explain them
in a way you might be able to understand. Among us, groups
of were families belong to a pack. These packs form clans.
Six clans make up our Low country Territory, which is
bounded by Savannah, Augusta, Columbia, up the coast to
Wilmington, with Charleston in the center.”
“Sounds too organized for me.”
“Of course,” Bourbon said with a sneer. “You have that
rabble you call the Araneum and all that,” he gave a weak
wave, “hocus-pocus undead stuff.”
I wasn't surprised he knew about the Araneum despite our
rules to keep quiet. Supernaturals share more among
themselves than they ought to.
“The Araneum is a social club. Far different from true
family.” He clenched a fist. “The closeness of blood ties.”
Blood ties. What bullshit. He ought to put that mierda on a
greeting card. “How does that family coziness figure into
your infamous blood feuds? Isn't that how you determine your
standing from were-cub to clan chief?”
“Not clan chief. Clan alpha.” He scratched the back of his
hand. The closer it got to a full moon, the more werewolves
itched like they couldn't wait to morph out of their human
He glanced at his fingers and held them still. “We've had
Bourbon nodded toward the photos. “Calhoun’s scheming to
take over the territory.”
“Calhoun is a clan alpha?” The mystery of why I was here
cleared a bit. “If he’s killed one of yours, that means...”
“I'm also a clan alpha,” Bourbon interrupted, looking
surprised that it had taken me this long to understand.
“Of rival clans?” I replied. “Assuming Calhoun is such a
threat to your order, how come you don't take care of this
yourselves? Why not call the clans together and discuss this
problem around a can of Alpo?”
Bourbon’s eyes narrowed. I expected his ears to lay flat
against his skull. He began scratching the back of one hand
and then clasped them together. “Because first we have to
choose a new alpha of the territory.”
“What happened to the previous one?”
“She was killed in a plane crash.”
“So you and Calhoun are scrambling to be the top boss?”
“I wouldn't have said it that way, but you are correct.”
“Now what do you do? Keep killing one another’s weres until
one of you cries uncle?”
“There is a process for selecting the new alpha of the
territory.” Bourbon unclasped his hands. “Calhoun is the
favored choice. He is the current alpha of the Magnolia Clan
and was the protégé of the late top alpha.”
I thought about the werewolves’ reputation for ruthless
domination over one another. “Any chance Calhoun caused the
“He did have the most to gain by her death. But as much as
I'd love to see him get blamed for it, no. I don't see how
he could. It was an accident.”
My gaze went back to Bourbon’s eyes. They still looked like
sphincters. He also had much to gain by the top alpha’s death.
“Of course not.”
Even if he had, would he admit it? I had to hear his denial.
He clasped his hands again. The action reminded me of a
nervous tic. “If anyone deserves to be the alpha of the
territory, it is I.”
“How does that concern me?”
“An outsider, a vampire, takes him out...”
“You're asking me to kill Randolph Calhoun? An alpha werewolf?”
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