The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, by Mario Acevedo

Mario Acevedo apparently, when he was four years old, told one of his aunts that he wanted a machine gun for Christmas. A stint in the army — where he also flew helicopters — apparently cured him of that, and provided him with fodder and knowledge for a series of books about a vet — these books, as a matter of fact. When not in the army, he has worked as an engineer and an artist, including being a combat artist and working with children. He has apparently been writing since he was young, and has published (so far) four novels in this series, all with . . . interesting . . . titles. A member of the Rocky Mountain Writers Group, he credits joining the group with his success in the publishing world.

Felix Gomez is in the U.S. military, and while he is in Iraq, he comes back with what he tells people is “Operation Iraqi Freedom Syndrome.” Except it’s nothing of the sort; he got vampirism instead. Fortunately, some of the weaknesses of being a vampire can be mitigated by 21st-century technology, such as Dermablend and high-octane sunscreen. Now Gomez is a P.I., and one of his old friends from college has called him up to find out why something very strange has happened at his DOE base (i.e., somewhere where they do nuclear research) — the women appear to have been infected with something that is causing them to be, ahem, hyper-interested in a certain sort of physical activity. Can Gomez figure it out? And why are vampires in the area dying?

I absolutely admit that I misjudged this story, prior to reading it, because of the title. I thought it would be significantly more misogynist. It wasn’t — I don’t think any women were even killed, and while the nymphomania did, of course, only affect the women (at least at first), that was not because of any inherent flaw in women; it wasn’t particularly explained, but it certainly wasn’t their fault. The female characters of note — Wendy and Carmen — weren’t so bad; while they weren’t that well-developed as characters, that was mostly the limitations of the plot, the first-person narrative, and the main character being, well, a guy’s guy more than anything else.

The new twists on vampirism I generally didn’t mind. The contact lenses (to hide the reflective layer in the back of the eye, like a wolf) constantly being removed and, presumably, thrown out was decently done, although having worn soft contact lenses myself, I know it takes more than a millisecond to get them in or out — even if you’re good at it. Perhaps vampiric reflexes make the suction factor less of a problem. I actually liked the makeup-and-sunscreen idea, although I understand it has its problems. (For example, one’s scalp, or one’s eyes, or the inside of one’s mouth.) Dumping blood over food in order to eat it (and being required to eat non-blood food) took a little more suspension of disbelief. I didn’t consider it beyond belief, certainly (unlike, say, the sparkles), but it was a bit more of a stretch than makeup and sunscreen. The blood thing turned out to be nothing, in terms of suspension of disbelief, as far as the plot was concerned, but I will say no more.

Mr. Acevedo has created a convincing and interesting character in Felix Gomez; I’d be quite interested to read future books in the series. He has just barely scratched the surface of the setup of the vampire world in his reality, and the paranormal world, as well. The government involvement, as well, was intriguing and thought-provoking; I believe he’ll be able to mine that territory for many more plot ideas. The titles will certainly draw some readers in, although probably not the right kind. I’d recommend it to those who preferred the plot over the sex in the Laurell K. Hamilton books, and fans of other urban fantasy authors such as Kelley Armstrong and Jim Butcher. 4/5 stars.

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