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Retro Reading: The Fall of Lucifer by John Peyton Cooke

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Words can't begin to express my hatred with the 1990's, however, John Peyton Cooke makes it seem like it was an interesting time.

While this is the second (and final) novel in the Greg Quaintance series, this time it's roughly mid-October in New York City and Greg celebrates his thirtieth birthday within the first paragraph of the book, which happens to be on a Friday.

After partying all night and getting a few hours of sleep, he decides to go to his office and while working, receives a visit from Henry Foster. He wants to hire Greg to find his missing son, Jared.

Henry tells Greg that he's just come from the morgue where he was happy to learn that the young man on the slab wasn't Jared. He tells him that he wasn't sure if it was him, since the deceased kind of looked like him, but a lot of the tattoos don't match.

When Greg asks why he thinks Jared is missing, he tells him that he hasn't heard from him in a couple of months, but knew that he was becoming more involved with the goth lifestyle and was getting worried.

He shows two pictures of Jared which were taken a few months apart. The first shows a regular college student and the other shows a barely recognizable Jared covered in tattoos basically from head to toe.

After Henry leaves, Greg finishes up at the office and decides to contact his last known roommate, Anastasia Cartwright. She tells him that she hasn't heard from him and agrees to meet him at one of the goth bars later that night.

Since Greg isn't into the goth scene, he dresses as best as he can and heads to the bar where he meets psychic vampire, Lucrezia. He tells her that he's supposed to meet Anastasia but she hasn't shown up.

Lucrezia takes him to another bar where her best friend, Sebastian, is the DJ and he tells them that he hasn't seen her. The two then go to Anastasia's apartment and find it ransacked.

Out of fear, Lucrezia has disappeared and after he calls Anastasia she and Sebastian come back to give the police a report. When he leaves, he notices that the Chinese restaurant that he had been to a few hours earlier is dark, but the OPEN sign is lit up and a light is on in the kitchen area.

He goes in and discovers three bodies.

After giving his statement to the police, he goes home and is awoken by the telephone ringing at six-thirty in the morning.

On the other end is Gloria Glendenning-Foster, Jared's stepmother.

She tells Greg that she wants to hire him since Henry has disappeared and he tries to tell her that he can't work for her since it would be a conflict of interest. She doesn't care and tells him that she'll be in his office within a couple of hours.

Greg spends a busy Sunday by interviewing potential suspects and in the process gets beaten up along the way. On an interesting note, he learns that a local television talk show had taped an episode of people wanting to become vampires and Jared was on the panel (along with Lucrezia).

He goes to the studio and after talking with an assistant is given permission to watch the editors piece together the show.

With a copy of the show he goes to the police with the latest information that he has and while he knows that the suspect in the vampire draining of the first victim is in the audience, they devise a plan to capture the killer.

While I don't know anything of the goth lifestyle, Cooke was great in describing the people and bar settings. He made you feel as though you were there, in 1998.

However, a vast majority of the story is boring. Basically the middle.

In the past, I can't praise Cooke enough for his writing style, but whenever he strays from the goth characters, it does become boring. You get a glimpse as to who these people are and want to know more about them.

The manner in which two of the characters are murdered are original, and at first I thought this was going to be a novel about a potential serial killer. I think if he had stayed on this track, it would have been a definite page turner.

Well, it still is, but not as fast as you'd hope it to be.



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