the richmond vampire coverRating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Walter Franklin MacBride Moore, aka Mack, comes from a family of esteemed hunters. Unfortunately, Mack is the black sheep of the family, having not quite the stomach the rest of his family has for staking and other mayhem. So while he still works in the family business, Mack’s role is of a more low-level hunter, working for an organization called SPAM with his partner, Hal.

When some local Richmond, VA, hunters go missing, Mack and Hal are sent in from New Orleans to try to find out what happened. Word on the street is that the infamous Richmond Vampire has turned serial killer and Mack and Hal need to find a way to stop him. Upon checking out the cemetery where the vampire’s crypt supposedly lies, Mack finds himself face to face with the man himself, Adrian Bellafleure. But Adrian insists that he is not the killer, that there is another vampire and their supernatural partner who are causing all the havoc. Mack knows he shouldn’t even be listening to anything Adrian has to say; he should be staking him and moving on. But something about Adrian is so compelling (not to mention handsome) that Mack can’t bring himself to harm him. Instead, Mack convinces Hal that they should work with Adrian to catch the real killer.

Figuring out who is behind the murders isn’t easy, even with Adrian’s inside intel into the local supernatural community. The case gives Mack and Adrian a chance to grow closer, and Mack can admit his attraction to Adrian despite himself. But even as they work to find the bad guys and stop them from killing more innocents, Mack needs to figure out if he can ignore a lifetime of training and consider a future with a vampire.

The Richmond Vampire is a cute story that appears to be inspired by the actual Richmond Vampire urban legend, and Rancourt has incorporated some key elements of that story into this book (check out this article about the legend for more). There is a great sense of setting and place to this story, with a lot of detail about the city of Richmond and its culture, as well as things directly connected to the legend. I think Rancourt does a nice job bringing the city to life here and it adds a nice component to the book.

I also liked the set up with Mack growing up in a family of hunters, but not having the bloodthirstiness of his kin and being somewhat on the outs with the family. We are told he is sort of the beat cop to their high-level agents and he works for an organization called Special Processes and Management (SPAM). While we get a little bit of background on Mack in terms of him being trained as a hunter from a young age, plus a quick glimpse of his early failure to stake a key vampire, there isn’t much here in terms of developing this supernatural world, the organization Mack works for, or even Mack himself. Humans apparently don’t know about the paranormal and we do see some various creatures beyond vampires, but I felt like there were a lot of gaps that left me confused. For example, what even is this organization that Mack works for? The name is meaningless (and presumably used for the jokey acronym). Aside from Hal telling Mack they were called out for a case, we learn virtually nothing about his job or the organization he works for or what they do. So I do feel like more detail in the world building would have helped.

Mack and Adrian have some nice banter that I enjoyed, and Adrian serves as a good guide for Mack and Hal to the city and its supernatural community. But from a romance angle, things felt lacking for me between them. Mack meets Adrian, notices he is hot, and then, for some reason, finds himself unable to stake him. The whole time they are working together, Mack has this recurring thought of “I should be killing him” or “I’ll kill him when this is all over,” but nothing comes of it. Presumably this is because something about Adrian is stopping him, but is it just that Adrian is hot? We see virtually nothing beyond casual flirting between these guys and no sense at all of feelings growing between them. They barely have any conversations and, even when they get together at the end, I had no sense of connection between them or idea what was drawing them to one another. The story ends with the idea that Mack and Adrian have a future together, but there just wasn’t enough foundation here for me to their romance, even for an HFN, and the story felt like it ended somewhat abruptly.

Rancourt does note at the end of this book that there is a “sequel of sorts” that follows one of the side characters in the aftermath of the events of this book called The Accidental Necromancer. That book is part of the Subpar Heroes multi-author series, but neither this book nor that one indicates a shared series name. Interestingly, while the Amazon blurb for The Accidental Necromancer does not mention this book at all, the Goodreads version of the blurb does say that Mack and Adrian will be back for more stories. So it does appear that this isn’t the end for them, but it takes a bit of digging to find details.

Overall, I thought this one had a nice set up and a really great sense of place. But in this shorter novel, the pacing felt choppy without enough of the key elements of the world building or the relationship developed to totally work for me.

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