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30 Days of Night: Rumors of the Undead, by Steve Niles, Jeff Mariotte
Reviewed by Jeff Edwards

If you've read this book, why not

FBI Special Agent Andrew Gray is a rational man with no patience for talk of the supernatural. So when friend and fellow agent Paul Norris changes into a bloodthirsty creature possessing extraordinary strength and razor-sharp teeth, Andy has a hard time coping. He vows to uncover what really happened and "fill in all the impossible blanks with logic and reason." Sacrificing everything to his obsession, Andy makes his way to the remote town of Barrow, Alaska, for a final confrontation with the monster that Paul has become.

In 30 Days of Night: Rumors of the Undead, Steve Niles and Jeff Mariotte tell the story of a former skeptic determined to expose the hidden world of vampires. But it's difficult for readers to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the novel because it's plagued with implausible events of a decidedly non-supernatural sort. For instance, one morning Andy guzzles a fifth of Jim Beam, then drives to the FBI's Los Angeles office and assaults his supervisor. Although he's put on "indefinite leave pending the results of [a] disciplinary hearing" and immediately escorted out of the building, Andy keeps his ID and firearm. The next day, he enters the Bureau's Sacramento office unchallenged and logs onto his computer to access classified information. Later, in the most unintentionally hilarious scene, Andy bursts unannounced into a pimp's house, wielding a 12-gauge shotgun and demanding to "borrow" two hookers for a harebrained scheme to attract vampires in Wisconsin.

Readers might be willing to overlook the absurd occurrences if Andy weren't such a thoroughly unlikable character. After Paul's transformation and escape, Andy is so "consumed with the puzzle" that he locks himself away in his home office for weeks, ignoring his wife and children while constantly smoking and drinking. Rather than risk facing his family, Andy avoids the bathroom, too, urinating through an open window into his own backyard. Oddly enough, Andy considers himself a "dedicated husband and father," but that doesn't stop him from sleeping with Paul Norris' wife on the night of her husband's funeral. Apparently, we're expected to hold Andy blameless since he finds sex with his wife to be "almost mechanical, habitual more than passionate" whereas Sally Norris is "a woman who radiated sex, and [Andy] was helpless to resist even if he'd wanted to."

The concept that launched 30 Days of Night was brilliant: What if vampires descended upon an isolated Alaskan town during a long period of winter darkness? But that idea has been stretched too thin in order to produce a comic book series, original novels, a motion picture and a movie novelization. If Rumors of the Undead is any indication, this franchise is suffering from an acute case of anemia.

30 Days of Night: Rumors of the Undead, by Steve Niles, Jeff Mariotte on Amazon

30 Days of Night: Rumors of the Undead, by Steve Niles, Jeff Mariotte on Amazon

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