Fu Manchu’s Vampire by Guido Henkel

Welcome to Meli Monday’s cont…wait, that’s only partly right. It is indeed  Monday, but I am not Meli. Apologies to our readers, but Meli is actually in the Florida bayou wrangling gators (honest, the postcard had bite marks). Don’t worry, CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY will continue next week, and we apologize for the miscue.

Meli’s one of the most metal chicks I know, so it’s only fitting that I post this particular review today, being that Guido and I have had a few chats about the merits of metal, more specifically guitarists. Without further ado, here’s the review:

Guido Henkel is a name that many of you are probably unfamiliar with. He writes the Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter series, which takes place in the Victorian era seemingly alongside the escapades of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, many parallels are drawn between the two sleuths, most notably their use of Inspector Lestrade as a liaison with Scotland Yard. In the latest installment Fu Manchu’s Vampire, Jason Dark goes toe to toe with a familiar adversary, with some familiar backup. From the website:

When ordinary measures are no longer enough, criminal mastermind Fu Man Chu is making use of a supernatural henchman to get his way. Soon, Scotland Yard is confronted with a series of unexplainable deaths that unsettle Victorian London, and Inspector Lestrade turns to occult detective Jason Dark and Siu Lin for help.

But as they look into the case, little do the ghost hunters suspect that the evil crime lord has already made them the vampire’s next target!

Filled with enough mystery, drama and suspenseful action to transport you to the sinister streets of gaslit London, your encounter with the extraordinary awaits as a new nightmare emerges and an old nemesis returns.

The story is a return to form for Henkel, having already given his readers a dose of the romantic undead in book #2 Theatre Of Vampires (which was this reader’s personal favourite of the series.) Along for the ride, as always, are Jason Dark’s sidekick/assistant/love interest Siu Lin, and in lesser roles are Herbert and Lady Wellsely. Dark’s mission initially involves investigating two murders, though in rather typical Henkel style, that mystery is solved rather easily in order to set up the larger, more involved plot.

While the initial murder is predictable (the story wouldn’t go anywhere if we didn’t find out whodunnit) Henkel inserts a rather nice twist in that both Dark and Fu Man Chu are duped by a second antagonist. This serves to break the otherwise formulaic approach that Henkel has adopted throughout 11 books. That’s not necessarily a negative, readers are accustomed to certain authors following a pattern, I’m simply pointing out that Henkel has his own style.

That style often involves a two-pronged subplot regarding Siu Lin. On one side, she is Dark’s aide and confidant, and on the other she is a love interest. The amorous tension between the two had been building for almost the entire series, and I’m not going to spoil anything but this book adds a sense of finality to that subplot.

Fu Manchu’s Vampire is somewhat of a return to form for Guido Henkel. The story isn’t without flaws, but the prose feels fresher than some of his earlier works, and the double-twist in the plot is well done and unexpected. For more on Guido Henkel as well as purchase links for Fu Manchu’s Vampire and the whole Jason Dark series, visit his website.

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