Believe it or not the title ‘Dracula Cha Cha Cha’ is the title of a popular song that was attached to a less admired and even less enduring film and this book will no doubt outlive them both. We continue to follow the now familiar characters previous seen in ‘Anno Dracula’ and ‘The Bloody Red Baron’ and prove to be far more interesting than the recent celluloid shiny ones we have become used to.
The ladies of the night are in Italy, Rome, the eternal city to be precise. The rumours are correct and Dracula has risen…to the challenge of matrimony and he is to take yet another bride, the beautiful and barking Princess Asa.
Kate Reed reaching her ninetieth year and amazed that she has been spared the stake thus far is here to cover it in her capacity as journalist. Penelope Churchward is the secretary and fixer for the Prince of Darkness. Penelope famously turned whilst she was engaged to an agent of the Diogenes Club. She realised she could never live up to his truly dead wife and thereby hangs another tale. As Dracula’s indispensable aide, Penelope has the inside edge to the rest of the sharp-toothed ones. Genevieve, herself an elder, is with that famous agent of the Diogenes Club. He’s been a great boon to the cause of eliminating Dracula as a power in the political scene of Europe but now Charles Beauregard is very old and, despite the love of the three vampire ladies, he is dying and doesn’t want to take the Dark Kiss to prolong his existence.
It’s a time of change, 1959, la dolce vita itself in the Vespa-riding, super-cool and stylish place that is Rome. But the environment heats up a little for vampires when it emerges that someone or something is after their blood. As the elders are cut down in swathes, it falls to Kate to investigate but she wants to surrender herself to the heat of love and lust. Constantly interrupted by the need to investigate the murders, Kate cannot help getting involved but it’s dangerous out there and the knives and the stakes are out.
This is a fabulous tale of unlife in the vampire and human world in 1959. Many of the characters are both notably factual and fictional, including a star turn by Tom Ripley, made famous by Patricia Highsmith’s novels and Matt Damon’s star turn. There are other tantalising popular culture references and, thankfully, there is a short chapter guide at the back which explains some of them for those whose education is sadly lacking.
‘Dracula Cha Cha Cha’ is really entertaining. It’s gripping and full of curiosities that intrigue and charm, too. We do sympathise with Kate as she ponders how long she might remain human when the three women face the death of the man they all loved. Genevieve and Penelope are more incidental characters here but Charles Beauregard remains at the centre of the novel as their only real link with the human world.
Once he is gone, it is a whole new world and the new novella ‘Aquarius’ (included in this reprint) offers us a glimpse of what Kate does next. This is the story of when Kate Reed gets involved with a whodunit in London, 1968. Again, this features characters from TV and film culture alongside our fictional vampire heroine. Again, the mix is a delight and the story a gud-un. I’m looking forward to the next one in the series and that’s always a good sign.
(pub: Titan Books. 477 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $14.95 (US), $17.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-85768-085-3)