13 Bullets

Review by Phil Davis
June 8, 2007

"13 Bullets" by David Wellington (Three Rivers Press, 336 pages $13.95).

The most basic mistake any hero or heroine can make is to think that he or she has put the big beastie down for good.

David Wellington's "13 Bullets" opens with the hero presumably wiping out the last vampire nest, leaving vampire-in-chief Justinia Malvern to rot in a special prison. Everyone thinks vampires are history, but veteran vampire hunter Jameson Arkeley knows it's not over. Vampires, as the legend goes, have all the time in the world.

When the bloodsucking fiends strike again 20 years later, Arkeley chooses tough state trooper Laura Caxton to be his backup as he again tries to figure out Malvern's evil plans.

Wellington's vampires don't cringe at crucifixes, but they do shred nicely when shot with Arkeley's illegal "cross point" bullets. "It's like every bullet is a little fragmentation grenade," says Arkeley, explaining the art of 21st century vampire slaying.

Like most vampire tales, "13 Bullets" is limited, lacking the general creepiness of Stephen King's classic "Salem's Lot," or the sharp, pop culture savvy of TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." But unlike King - or Bram Stoker, for that matter - Wellington doesn't make his readers wait for action. The hero is squeezing the blood out of an eviscerated vampire's heart by page 15 and the carnage doesn't stop until the last bloody page.

In the anticlimactic end, neither the dead nor vampire hunters get to rest.

"13 Bullets" is a fast-paced read in the spirit of hard-boiled detective fiction, but the story will most likely appeal only to fans of the genre who can appreciate a hero who shelves the wooden stakes and crossbows of old for the flesh-ripping power of a bullet.

Fanged Films

Australia, 2002
Reign in Darkness
USA, 2004
Blood Dancers

From the Library

Late in the 17th century, there was a town called Croglin Grange (in Cumberland County, England). It's been said by some that the town was visited by a vampire... and the young lady in the tale barely escaped with her life.A one-story home in Croglin Grange was rented to a two brothers and their sister. One summer night, when the heat from the day still clung to the air, the sister was looking out her window at the stars. It was too hot to sleep. Suddenly, she noticed two lights that flickered in and out of the group of trees that lay beyond her window.
Elizabeth Miller is a well-known member of the vampire community. In addition to being a former Professor of English at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, she is President of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula - Canadian Chapter as well as Baroness of the House of Dracula. What was your first exposure to Dracula?

Drawn to Vamps?