The notion of a vampire private detective is pretty cliche, especially when that vampire’s name is Angel. Mick Angel, to be precise. Not the Angel of Buffy fame. But you see what I mean.
Trevor O. Munson’s Angel Of Vengeance is the book that inspired the much-lamented vampire detective series Moonlight. The book was never released before the original series, but now it comes as a kind of lifeline to fans of the show – like ourselves – who were upset when Moonlight got cancelled.
This version of Mick Angel (he was Mick St John in the TV series) is a tad darker than the one most people will be familiar with. The character talks at length about his pre-vampire life and how he was hooked on drugs and turned to petty crime to fund his habit. However, when he’s made a vampire on the night of his execution for murder, Mick sees the grizzly, dirty side of vampire existence and chooses to fight against his vampire nature. And thus he becomes a teetotaller vampire detective.
The storyline loosely follows Mick’s backstory while he searches for the missing sister of a burlesque dancer. What’s enjoyable about this is that Mick is fabulously outdated – he retains his 1940’s sensibilities in 21st Century LA. Mick’s a total fish out of water, the way he dresses, the way he speaks and his values. But he’s got a pretty firm grasp on human nature and he doesn’t waste time with his interrogation technique – watch as he smashes up a drug dealer who refuses to give him information.
Angel Of Vengeance divides it’s time fairly equally between Mick’s past and his present investigation, until the two storylines come together quite nicely at the end. It turns out – ready for spoilers? – that Mick’s wife has been gunning for revenge for a rather nasty incident in which he…well…burned her to death. She was a vampire anyway, and in Munson’s world, that’s the most effective way to get rid of a psychotic vampire spouse.
Vampire literature can be awfully hit and miss. Authors frequently insist on dicking about with the rules of vampires, and Munson is no exception. Mick’s dependency on blood is treated as an addiction, and he keeps himself nice and fresh by sleeping in a freezer. The reason for the sub-zero sleeping arrangement is that – unlike most vampire lore – Munson’s vampires continue to decay, from the inside out. Mick says that at times he can smell the rotting that’s going on inside him, there’s a heat that’s generated like from a compost heap.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine Alex O’Loughlin as the romantic lead while his entrails are stinking up a storm! But I do find the idea of slowly rotting vampires fascinating. It puts a kind of time limit on their stories, and also how long they can feasibly integrate with the living world. I’d like to see that notion explored further.
Munson’s idea of a private detective who’s a vampire is nothing original. In fact, I recall Anne Rice’s hero Lestat waking up in the 80’s, but talking like a pulp detective novel character. Mostly because that was the last era he woke up in. I like to imagine that this might have been the seed for Munson’s Mick Angel character.
In places, the novel can be a bit campy, but it’s a fantastic page-turner at the same time. Overall, it’s a very enjoyable read that establishes Mick Angel’s world and could conceivably be the starting point for a new line of vampire fiction. Fans of Moonlight will really enjoy this alternate version of Mick, who’s quite a few shades darker and doesn’t have the creepy romantic relationship with a woman he’s been watching over since she was a child!
I’d be interested to see if Trevor Munson has any sequels waiting in the wings for us.