Cody (a pseudonym for Chris Marie Green, author of the Vampire Babylon series) effectively merges science fiction, horror, and the classic western in this spectacular trilogy launch. Near-future America has shattered into isolated human sanctuaries while government-sanctioned Shredders hunt the preternatural monsters that haunt the wilderness. A lone vampire, Gabriel, arrives at an underground refuge deep in the Badlands, where a group of desert homesteaders are being threatened by a wealthy new settler, Stamp, and his gang of thugs. Wary, traumatized Mariah Lyander and her sentient canine companion reluctantly offer Gabriel shelter. His attraction to Mariah draws him into conflict with Stamp, at the risk of revealing the vampire nature he is determined to suppress. Ingeniously subverting traditional themes, Cody skillfully builds near-claustrophobic suspense, finally revealing the true nature of monstrosity. (Aug.)
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