One chapter book reviews: X-Rated Blood Suckers

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Since the establishment of horror as a legit genre somewhere around the late '70s, it's always been almost a tradition to infuse the gore with a liberal amount of sex -- and in a literary sense, few have been as shameless about those twin preoccupations than Mario Acevedo, whose credits in addition to X-Rated Blood Suckers include books with names like The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, Jailbait Zombie and Mutants With Giant Tits. Just kidding on that last one, but it didn't look too out of place there, did it?

It's silly, sure, but that silliness is also intentional: Acevedo, a longtime fixture on the Colorado literary scene, has said before that he'd originally tried to write more serious novels and, when those didn't get off the ground, just wrote the most ridiculous thing he could think of. That turned out to be The Nymphos of Rocky Flats. Since then, he's basically continued in that vein, writing sex-stuffed paranormal P.I. fiction around the vampire-detective Felix Gomez, a name that's become almost synonymous with his own.

You can't ignore a legacy like that. I've been familiar with Acevedo's name for a while, but I've never actually read his stuff. So when I came across an old copy of X-Rated Blood Suckers lying around the office, I thought I'd give it the old one-chapter try. The beginning of chapter 15, the chapter I randomly selected, seemed an apt summation:

Coyote helped himself to one of the bags of human blood that I had in an ice bucket on the dresser. He warmed the bag in the microwave by the vanity sink. After punching holes in the bag with his fangs, Coyote slurped the blood. He turned his cap backward, slouched on my bed, and watched TV while I shaved and did my morning business. Vampires aren't supposed to use the bathroom. True...on an all-blood diet. But if the tacos come in, they have to come out.

And...gross. But also weirdly compelling. That section also showcases Acevedo's style, which tends toward utilitarian, largely unadorned, but seasoned with references to Hispanic culture. The character Coyote, for example, would seem to refer to the popular Mexican nickname for human traffickers (he also uses the word vato often), and Acevedo sprinkles the narration with little lessons in Mexican slang. Here's a bit of illustrative dialogue:

"No, pendejo" [No, dumbass.] "I'm expecting a parade down South Central."

The storyline of the chapter involves Felix, the first-person narrator, discussing with Coyote how someone or other is trying to kill him, and then the two characters go to a hospital to interrogate some doctor about something. It didn't really matter that I wasn't altogether sure what was going on. The narrative pace was brisk and the characters quirky and interesting, and the scenes were vibrant -- Coyote's truck, for example, has boards nailed (not screwed) to the floor to cover rust-holes -- and often funny.

Crass? Sure. Ridiculous? Absolutely. But then again, what good genre fiction isn't? It's not exactly reinventing the wheel, but Acevedo's not trying to do a whole lot more than just what he does -- and he does it capably, wittily and with panache to spare.

Acevedo's most recent book is Werewolf Smackdown, available wherever fine books are sold.

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