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The Undead Kama Sutra

The Undead Kama Sutra - Mario Acevedo It's hard to resist a book titled The Nymphos of Rocky Flats. That's what prompted me to read it eight years ago, and the story inside -- a vampire private detective investigates an outbreak of nymphomania at a governmental research facility -- made it clear that it was a "Does what it says on the box!" sort of story. Each book that followed in the series has a similar title and premise (X-Rated Bloodsuckers was about a murdered porn star/vampire), and they were fun reads, even if they weren't the deepest books on the shelf.

The thing is, it's been seven years since I last read a Felix Gomez book, and I guess (?) I'm reading a higher caliber of books than I used to, because I saw a lot of cracks in the veneer of The Undead Kama Sutra. It started out fairly well, with Felix checking into some kidnappings and murders, and there was a great build-up as Felix delved into the investigation step by step. There were some random moments in the novel that didn't seem to go anywhere (the device that allowed vampires to endure sunlight seemed to be used strictly as a one-time plot device for one part of the story), and the ending ... well, let's just say that you're not going to see a real resolution to the story here.

True to the title, the story does feature an Undead Kama Sutra, but it's an aside, really, and more of a throwaway device than the aforementioned device. I was expecting the book to be the central element of the story (see: the previous two books) and was disappointed to see that the story was about something else entirely.

Speaking of devices, Acevedo's vampires have the ability to charm humans into doing what they need, including having them forget that they were ever there. It's not a new characteristic in the vampire mythology, but Acevedo overuses it. Near the end of the novel, Felix is forced to solve a problem without it, which was a nice surprise, but nearly every other problem he faces in the book involves him vamping whoever's in his way. I would have liked to have seen more flexibility in the way Felix solved his challenges, since the PI novels I've read have the heroes be more than just a one-trick pony.

Also, I was disappointed to see how Acevedo portrayed his women characters. Like the Eddie LaCrosse series, the women are defined by their attractiveness, but Felix takes it into very uncomfortable places. At one point in the novel, he talks about how human women throw themselves at his feet due to his vamprism (it's explained as a hypnosis thing more than anything, which, now that I think about it, is even creepier), and when he seduces a woman without using his vampiric charm, she basically uses him and throws him out when they're done. I figured that would be a moment for Felix to realize that he was being treated the way he treated the women, but no, he just turned around and called her a bitch. Later, he tries again with another woman, but she doesn't want anything to do with him, so he calls her a name, too (I don't think he went so far as to call her frigid, but it was certainly implied), and goes back to using his vampirism as a way to seduce women. It borders on misogyny, which isn't something I remembered from the first two books, though, again, that was seven years ago.

The book didn't take long to read (I was averaging about 100 pages per hour), and I'm still planning to read the remaining two books in the series, but I'm hoping that a lot of what's left unresolved in this book (not only the plot, but also Felix's character development) is addressed in those books. I expect them to be light fluff like this one was, but I only hope that they'll be better written. The only saving grace this book has is that it's compelling.