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Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha

Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha - Kim Newman As book titles go, Dracula Cha Cha Cha isn't the dumbest one I've ever seen, but it might be in the top ten, possibly the top five. I was surprised to see that this isn't even an original title; the title comes from a song that was part of a 1950s vampire movie, which was even covered by other artists. The title and its reference help give us the setting for this novel, which is Rome in 1959.

It's important to note the time frame, since it isn't as evident in this novel as it was in the first two stories in the series. I suppose it makes sense; Newman used Jack the Ripper and World War I as the backdrops for his first two novels, and moving further into the Twentieth Century, he may have run out of archetypal historical events to use as a frame for his stories (though I have to say I'm glad he resisted the urge to make vampire hippies).

Like The Bloody Red Baron, the Titan edition of Dracula Cha Cha Cha is comprised of two stories, the title novel and a novella titled Aquarius (which, again, gives us a good sense of the setting and time for that story). The novel is a mystery story about elder vampires getting murdered in Rome, headlined with familiar characters and another fictional character -- a Mister Bond, Hamish Bond to be precise -- to round out the cast. It was compelling and readable, and had some shocking moments that I didn't want to believe. Let's just say that Newman's skills at characterization and voice are still to be admired (and those of you who have read the book probably know what I mean).

Aquarius is a new-to-this-edition novella set in 1968, complete with the drug scene, Socialists, rock and roll, and beatniks, set as the backdrop to a murder mystery. It's entertaining, and will keep you guessing, but Newman, as he did with the other stories, captures the narrative style of that era to help set the story, and half the time I didn't even know what he was talking about. British beatnik slang seems to elude me.

It's unfortunate that the book is riddled with typographical errors. There were several typos ("Her head span" instead of "Her head spun"), paragraphs that were not indented on the first line, and even some boxes printed in place of non-Unicode characters. I was surprised to find them at all, considering that I didn't notice anything like that in the first two books.

Overall, this is another good entry into the entire Anno Dracula oeuvre, but I don't think it has the overall punch that the first two books did. It could also be that the books are encroaching on times that are more familiar with me (which doesn't bode well for the next one, which is set during my own lifetime), but either way, I've been impressed enough not to quit on them. Newman still tells a good tale.