December 16, 2023

Book Review


reviewed by Warner Holme

Loren D. Estleman’s Vamp is the latest addition to his series featuring Valentino, a detective deeply rooted in the film industry. In this narrative, Valentino embarks on an investigation into a blackmail case, intertwined with a stroke of remarkably fortuitous events in his personal interests.


Initially reluctant, especially after uncovering some humorous aspects of the blackmailer’s past, Valentino is drawn into the case. The needs of a friend and a catastrophic situation leave him with few alternatives.

A significant element of Vamp is the lost film Cleopatra, starring Theda Bara, one of the most renowned lost films in history. Its incorporation, particularly with a character named after Bara that ties back to the title, is both fitting and intriguing. The challenge for Estleman, or any author, lies in addressing a real, yet lost film within a fictional narrative. The options are to either deviate from history, imagining its rediscovery, or have it destroyed in the story, creating a bittersweet outcome. Both choices present their own set of writing challenges, as seen in works like The Name of the Rose.

The book maintains consistency with returning characters, while seamlessly introducing new ones. Although it stands alone, its position as a later book in a series might pose a challenge for new readers. Familiar faces from previous stories frequently reappear, leaving newcomers wondering about their significance and history.

Overall, Vamp offers a swift, engaging read. Its blend of captivating characters, a compelling mystery, and informative film references makes it appealing to both series fans and new readers. Film enthusiasts, in particular, will find an added layer of enjoyment, but the book is accessible and enjoyable for anyone, regardless of their interest in cinema.

Vamp is available at:

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