Kim Newman Dracula Chachacha (Titan Books, 2012, 480 pages)
This is the new edition of Dracula Chachacha aka Judgment of Tears. The third novel in Newman's Dracula series, putting the story this time into Rome 1959.
This is done with Annotations.
As all the Titan edition there is something new included. This time it is a new novella called Aquarius. Back in London, two party girls are found murdered, virtually drained of their blood. Kate Reed investigates and finds herself face to face with an old enemy.
Basically it is Anno Dracula 1968. So you have swinging London. While vampire coppers Regan and Dixon are manhandling suspects and MP Enoch Powell is predicting "rivers of blood", bootboys amusing themselves with "Draky Bashing", vampire journalist/secret agent Kate Reed is more working for Michael Moorcocks New Worlds then for the press.
It' been 20 years since Anno Dracula, and one tends to forget that Newman did this big and exhaustive write-up of historical characters, literary characters and in this case vampires quite some years before Alan Moore did his League of Extraordinary Gentleman.
Of course the Swinging Sixties have wealth of history and pop culture, and it is is the usual fun to spot the references here. But there is also a kind of quit unease in this because you really have to know your trivia to "get it".
As a genre reader you will - hopefully - know what Moorcock' s New Worlds means, and I guess not only british tv-addicts will know the "warm" police surgeon Geoff Brent. But - as an example - to know the villains bodyguards vampire twins Cathy Castel and Pony Tricot to appreciate the joke is another layer, I guess. For the casual reader this will be a difficult story, maybe even more than the novel. As a fan I marvel about Newman's inventiveness and the seemingly effortless re-writing of history here on display.
Here is hoping that the last, so long in the making forth part Johnny Alucard finally will be published next year. Something to look for.
Post by The Lurker In The Shadows on Oct 22, 2012 14:13:49 GMT
There's an interview with Kim Newman here in which he reveals that 'Johnny Alucard' might NOT be the final book in the series. Let's hope that if there is a fifth volume, the gap won't be as long as the one between Cha-Cha-Cha's original publication and next April's proposed Johnny A debut.
There is the touch on the shoulder that comes when you are walking quickly homewards in the dark hours, full of anticipation of the warm room and bright fire, and when you pull up, startled, what face or no-face do you see?
Read this a few years back and enjoyed it immensely - for me, the best in the series so far. (Tom Ripley! "Hamish" Bond! The fat mad doctor out of 'Les Yeux Sans Visage'!... Oh, and Barbara Steele.)
Then he wrote "Another Fish Story" and I retrospectively went off most of his work. Probably daft, and just a gut reaction... but I'm not sure the Manson Family's a good fit for that kind of flip, arch meta-style.
That aside, this is a cracker. It's arguably all the Kim Newman you'll ever need. No?
Have yet to get around to Dracula Cha Cha Cha but made a start on the 120 page bonus novella last night, and share Andy's enthusiasm.
Aquarius: Kate Reed, journalist on New Worlds, sometime associate of the Diogenes Club, and benign-ish vampire, assists Detective Super Bellaver in hunting the killer of blue movie starlet, Carol Thatcher (of 'sex comedy' Cool It, Carol repute), in Charlton Park. The young woman has been bled dry. Bellaver - fresh from his grouchy turn in Scream And Scream Again - pulls in Carol's hapless boyfriend/ pimp as the nearest thing they have to a suspect, though he's quickly exonerated. "Chucked out of school for being a useless herbert, string of mickey mouse jobs off the books ... Window cleaner, driving instructor, holiday camp ... pop performer, it says here. not on any hit parade I know. If they needed a picture of a long-haired layabout for an encyclopaedia, Timmy Lea would pose for it."
Anti-vampire sentiments are running high in the wake of Enoch Powell's "Rivers Of blood" speech, opportunist thugs exploiting racial tensions to indulge in "Draky-bashing." Early Vault role model James Manford, OBE, fronts a committee to tackle "the vampire problem." The last thing Bellaver or the law-abiding Undead community need is for the killer to strike again, but Kate's spidy sense tells her Carol's murder is the first of a spree. Her worst fears are realised when what's left of swinging Chelsea dolly-bird, Laura Jane Bellows, turns up in a wheelbarrow over Deptford way. No Dracula AD 1972 for her.
It's Newman, pop culture references are his stock in trade and duly proliferate throughout. the Move, The Flower People, The Small Faces, 'Whiter Shade of Pale' and 'The Green Green Grass of Home' on the radio. The Bikini Girl and Wow! jazz mags (ask Sir James Manford) in the newsagents. The psychomaniacal Living Dead biker gang. 'The Prospect of Whitby' pub in Wapping (as haunted by 'Bloody Jeffries') ....
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.