Raymond Giles, Night of the Vampire (Avon, 1969)
[originally posted 6Nov2000]
I picked this up because it had the same cover scheme as another Avon horror paperback of the time, Helen McCloy’s much-loved (at least by me) Mister Splitfoot. Don’t know whether they used the same
brutally red cover scheme for all their late-sixties horror novels [ed. note 11Sept2013: probably, as I have another half-dozen of them now], but that’s the only reason why McCloy’s charmingly quirky mystery and this rather second-rate Harvest Home ripoff would be lumped together.
Thirteen years (ooh, nice touch) after “swearing an allegiance to Satan” in the house of a supposed family of werewolves, the swearers of that allegiance find themselves back in the town of Sanscoeur (ooh, nice touch) again, despite having scattered to the corners of the earth. One of them has married the last doyenne of the werewolf clan, to toss in an extra twist. It would all be easily put down as coincidence, if they weren’t being murdered one by one. THAT could be put down as coincidence, as the area around Sanscoeur has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation (this is obviously before Washington DC became the murder capitol of the world), if Mrs. Werewolf didn’t keep smelling odd dead things every once in a while, and of course the whole place has the requisite ‘creepy atmosphere.’
The whole thing could have been taken for a great campy ride, if Giles weren’t so bloody serious. The ending of this book is a howler beyond mention, as naively serious and awful as Plan Nine from Outer Space. If you stumble upon this in a used bookstore, it’s worth picking up for the unintentional humor alone. Just don’t expect a good novel. * ½