Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Spy Who Drank Blood

Gordon Linzner, long-time editor of SPACE AND TIME magazine, wrote an odd little (127 pages) thriller called THE SPY WHO DRANK BLOOD (1984), starring a vampire with a definite license to kill. The title echoes both THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and the horror movie THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD. Code-named Blood (naturally), Linzner's secret agent is kept on a tighter leash than James Bond. Blood, who has long since abandoned his original name, became a vampire after getting killed while on assignment in the Balkans in 1961. He doesn't sleep in a coffin, but in a similarly-shaped casket in a cryogenic chamber. When needed for a mission, he's awakened by his handler, Arthur Blanchard. Bottled blood awaits the vampire after his revival, along with personal care supplies and fresh clothes. He then receives his orders, ordinarily in writing, but at the beginning of this novel, he's summoned to speak with Blanchard in person. It's immediately clear that Blood resists any attempt at maintaining personal connections from his mortal days, as shown by his flare-up of anger when Blanchard calls him by his old name.

As the reader has already witnessed in the opening scene, Blanchard's daughter, Andrea, a journalist on the track of an alleged strange creature lurking in the Everglades, has been kidnapped by terrorists. Rescue of a sort comes at the hands, or claws, of a monster who attacks her captors and carries her off. That's when the story shifts to Blood's awakening and his briefing by Blanchard. Dispatched to the area where Andrea was kidnapped, the agent poses as a journalist investigating her disappearance. The novel, told from multiple viewpoints, contains plenty of twists, fast-moving action, and combat scenes. Blood, of course, uses his inhuman powers to accomplish feats an ordinary man couldn't. When he finds Andrea, he also uncovers the ghastly truth about the swamp monster. While the undead protagonist and his covert employment hold plenty of series potential, no sequels were apparently published, at least none at book length discoverable on Amazon.

The vampire agent essentially has no life outside his job. Between missions, he rests in suspended animation. When revived for a mission, he focuses on it to the exclusion of anything else. Aside from his craving for blood, he seems driven solely by loyalty to his professional obligations.

I was surprised to find that Amazon has a 2019 reprint edition for sale, new. If you like both vampires and spy-thriller pastiches of the James-Bond-inspired type, you might enjoy this book.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

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