Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stixx – review

Author: Remy Porter

First Published: 2013

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: There's a murderer loose in Greystones, a small estuary village tucked against the wintry, wooded trails of O'Halloran Hill. The gory body count begins to rise, sending the media into an all-out feeding frenzy. The village is swamped with police and onlookers, and everybody wants to catch 'The Vampire Killer'.

While the hunt is on James Stixx and his partner-in-crime, Faye Burns discover that beneath the surface is a whole different story, a mystery that goes back decades. The teenagers find everyone has something to lose, or secrets to bury.

And all the while the vampire is waiting ... choosing its moment to strike...

The review: You should never judge a book by its cover, so they say, but can we take a moment to revel in the glory that is the cover of Stixx. A cracking piece of cover art that totally sells the book to me.

The book itself is a piece of crime fiction set in the English countryside, a rural landscape that is haunted by lumbering shells of derelict buildings as sepulchre as a tomb. Winter beaches, uninviting woodlands and fields on which there is no place to hide. In this bleak, winter scene we are witness to a double murder and the killer seems to be a vampire. This is not the suave vampire flitted out of some City goth club and wintering out in the sticks. Nor is it a cloaked member of the gentry, using his mesmeric gaze to trap the fluttering heart of a damsel. The vampire is naked and a ruthless killer and the police can’t seem to catch him.

In this village lives Stixx and he has just met Faye Burns who has recently moved to the village (and has a boyfriend overseas). They begin to try and investigate the attacks but what was great about the primary characters was just how damaged they all were. Stixx works a dead end job (though he may have just lost it), is known to the police due to a bad habit he used to have of setting fires and is a small time drug dealer. Faye has massive psychiatric issues – stemming from her dad having a psychotic break and cutting her twin sister into pieces. Porter writes a great character as they are damaged, sometimes petty, but you still sympathise with them.

Is it a vampire – now that really is a spoiler too far though certainly there is belief that a vampire is out there. I will say that there is a deeper plot aspect, a dark mystery at the heart of village life that, if I had a complaint, seemed just a tad convoluted. However that is a minor issue as the story certainly did keep me with it, but it is those characters that really hook you.

Not a heartthrob vampire, a Count or an angst-ridden vampire in sight, rather a ruthless monster and a novel that is definitely worth your time. 8 out of 10.

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