Blood Hunt – by Lee Killough

Blood Hunt, by Lee Killough (TOR, 1987):

A rare example of a fictional vampire who is a truly nice person, without possessing the superhuman charisma of Saint-Germain. Like Matheson, Killough postulates that vampirism is an infectious disease, though in Blood Hunt the hypothesis is merely assumed by the vampires without being elaborated in any way.

As in Rice's trilogy, a victim must taste the vampire's blood in order to be transformed. Killough, like Rice, presents the gradual process of transformation from the vampire's point of view. Garreth Mikaelian, a San Francisco police officer, investigates murders committed by Lane Barber, a vampire, who drains him to death.

When he accidentally drinks some of her blood, Lane refrains from destroying him, because she longs for a companion. The core of the novel concerns Garreth's gradual realization of and adjustment to the fact of his vampirism. He requires soil (not necessarily “native earth”) to sleep on and cannot enter a dwelling uninvited, two factors that do not seem to harmonize with Killough's viral theory.

He casts a reflection, in keeping with his supposedly non-supernatural nature. Sunlight causes him discomfort but does not kill him. He lives on animal blood, though it proves less than satisfying; as a highly moral vampire, he refuses to prey on people. Determined to bring Lane to justice, he traces her to her home town, where he makes a place for himself in the community — working the night shift on the local police force — while waiting for her to return.

Vampire or not, Garreth remains a good cop, who adamantly resists the temptation to play vigilante. Even someone like Lane deserves due process of law. Circumstances finally free Garreth from the dilemma this philosophy imposes on him, and at the novel's end we see him as a small-town policeman who has come to terms with his new existence.

The strongest appeal of this novel, for me, is that Garreth's personality remains intact through his transformation. Instead of becoming a bloodthirsty Demon, he stands in the far more interesting position of an ordinary man required to adjust to a new set of limits and temptations. In the sequel, Bloodlinks (TOR, 1988), Garreth is accustomed to his vampiric life but far from happy with it.

Drawn back to San Francisco by a new set of mysterious murders, he meets the female vampire responsible for Lane's transformation and learns that his friends and family can accept him even after they discover what he is. The character of Garreth has great potential for further growth; a third volume is scheduled for late 2000.

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