I am a somewhat disillusioned fan of vampire fiction. I have a few hundred vampire books and have read a few hundred more than that. The days when I would buy a book just because it was vampire fiction are long gone given the sheer quantity of them out there and the average quality, which seems to sink every year. In the last week I just happen to have read three vampire books over the last week or so and this one, 'Running Dry' by M. Christian, made me think: Oh, right. This is what I loved about vampire fiction all along.
And I should probably make clear is that we are not talking about bats, tuxedos and mock-European-accent type vampire cliches here. The very essence of the vampire mythos is having to take something from someone else to live, take so much that they die. That is the monster inside the man, that is the dilemma. Modern vampires who have immortality, angst and superpowers but no real down side to their state pale in comparison to this.
The basic story is about Doud, a conflicted man trying to reconcile what he needs to do to live his long life with his respect for human life. Shelly is his friend, a middle-age gallery owner who has to confront a few of her own personal demons when she finds out what Doud really is. And finally the story starts with the return of Doud's old lover Sergio who had every reason to want Doud dead. The kind of creature Doud really is would take a little long to explain. He needs to feed off others but his nature springs from the author's unique vision and has none of the surface features of the stock blood-sucking monster.
There really is very little to complain about in this book. I do think some of the events in the last third of the book could have been described at more length to help us setting into the twists and turns and to add pathos to the ending which could (should?) have had more emotional impact. But this is a quibble. The characters are likeable without being particularly heroic or virtuous (like real people). The story pulls you along with something new unfolding in every chapter. More than anything the writing is effortless to read, so it is more like watching the story through a window than wading through a swamp of words (this being the greatest difference between this book and the others I read this week). Based on my experience of M. Christian's writing so far (this book and his anthology 'Filthy') my main advice is this, if a book has his name on it you should buy it.
If you like fiction with gay themes their presence here is a bonus, but the reason to buy this book is because this book is good.