Friday, June 17, 2011

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011 - Letter V is for VERSE OF THE VAMPYRE by Diana Killian

No, no, get it out of your mind. Immediately. This is not a book about vampires - actual vampires that is. Not at all. It's just a book with a catchy vampire title. So even if you're currently suffering from vampire fatigue, this review will not agitate you in the least. Trust me.

Disclosure: I have read two books about actual vampires in my whole life: SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley which I recommend to anyone who doesn't like vampire books and INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE by Anne Rice which I don't recommend to anyone.

I do plan on reading DRACULA by Bram Stoker for my Victorian Reading Challenge but that's later on in the year and besides, the book is a lit classic. I'm covered.

Back to VERSE OF THE VAMPYRE. (A great title, you have to admit.) Perfect for the Letter V entry in Kerrie Smith's weekly meme - Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011. WXYZ are the letters still left and this is where it gets really tricky, especially for XY and Z. My mind is blank waiting for inspiration. Please use the link to see the other Letter V posts at Kerrie's blog, MYSTERIES IN PARADISE.

This title is the second book in the Poetic Death series by Diana Killian begun with the excellent debut novel, HIGH RHYMES AND MISDEMEANORS. (Killian's titles alone are terrific don't you think?) The books are set in and around the Lake District of England - if there is a more beautiful spot on earth, by the way, I haven't seen it.

The stories concern the mis-adventures of American literary scholar Grace Hollister who, in the first book was travelling in Wordsworth country when murder and mayhem interrupted the trip and she met the very enigmatic antique dealer Peter Fox. Needless to say, Ms Hollister has decided stay on a bit longer in England and see what develops. We should all be so lucky.

Here's the copy from the back of  VERSE OF THE VAMPYRE to give you an idea of what goes on in this idyllic area of England, at least according to the author: As Halloween comes to the English Village of Innisdale all manner of trickery leads to intrigue and mortal danger...

American schoolteacher and literary scholar Grace Hollister has extended her stay in the Lake District to do research and act as advisor (that's her story and she's sticking to it) to a local production of THE VAMPYRE, a play written by Lord Byron's doctor. But when accidents begin befalling the cast - culminating in the death of a society lady at a masquerade ball, replete with puncture wounds on her neck - it seems a real vampire may be roaming the village. (Uh-oh.)

If that's not chilling enough, Grace is being stalked and her enigmatic love interest, ex-jewel thief (Oh, did I forget to mention that little detail?) Peter Fox, has been behaving suspiciously (what - again?) after a rash of local thefts. Armed with little more than her passion for poetry and a determined spirit, Grace sets out to solve both mysteries...and to take her own bite out of crime. (I didn't make up that last line. It's all here in black and white.)

These books were a very nice surprise for me because truth to tell I hadn't expected much when I picked up the arc of HIGH RHYMES AND MISDEMEANORS a few years ago. I'd only decided to read it because I love the setting. I mean - who wouldn't? But that's the most fun of reading, I think, the surprise: a book you hadn't, necessarily, expected much from that makes you sit up and take notice.

Besides the gorgeous English Lake District setting, you can also expect to like the two main characters Grace and Peter, though Peter takes a bit of getting used to at first. You will also pick up bits and pieces about the Lake Poets and their lives and you'll get to hang out in a beautiful English village. Not much there not to like. Diana Killian is a clever, talented and imaginative writer who has, so far, written four books in the series and I'm here to recommend three of them. (I haven't yet read the fourth, but I plan to.)

TIP: Seeing that the setting for this book is Halloween in Innisdale, by the way, you may want to wait and read the book in the Fall.

Link here to Diana Killian's fun website.

Link here to get a complete instant list of Diana's books.

Turns out that Diana has a second series about which I know nothing. I think I have some catch-up reading to do. See what happens when you turn your back for a moment?


  1. Vampires! Quick, get out the garlic!

    Not my thing.

    However, just as an aside, there is a beautiful movie about the life of Beatrix Potter, who moved to the Lake District, bought up land and left a lot of money to preserve it as protected land. (Renee Zellweger plays Potter.)

    It is a corny but lovely movie with beautiful cinematography.

  2. I am glad I read your review. I would not have considered the book based on the title. Another reminder not to judge a book by the title on the cover.

  3. Hello Yvette:
    Your engaging writing never fails to entice, particularly so in this post where even the sternest critic of the 'crime' genre could not fail but to be drawn.

    However, and we have considered this with care, on this occasion Miss Hollister must, where we are concerned, be left to her extended visit to the Lake District and whatever may befall her with the very doubtful sounding Peter Fox.

    Happy weekend!

  4. Kathy: The book is not about 'real' vampires at all. I do recommend this series, it's a fun
    cozy way to spend a few hours in the English Lake District.

    I tried to watch the Beatrix Potter film, but Rene Zellweger's squeaky voice put me off. I may try again when I'm in a more receptive mood. :)

  5. Bill: I think the title fits in nicely with what Diana Killian is doing with these books. But of course, not everyone will agree with me. :)

    It's okay. It's still a well written series of cozies set in a marvelous place. I like that the heroine is no dope plus the idea of her being an American in the middle of an English Village is intriguing to me.

    Sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover and sometimes you can't. :)

  6. Lance and Jane: Thank you for stopping to enjoy my review even if the book itself will not be showing up on your bookshelves. :)

    I enjoyed reading your kind words.

    We can't all like the same things. That's the fun of being a reader, there's always something out there sure to please. If not this, then maybe the next one. :)


Your comment will appear after I take a look.