Aug 5 2012 11:00am

First Look: Carrie Clevenger’s Crooked Fang (August 20, 2012)

Carrie Clevenger
Crooked Fang
Lyrical Press / August 20, 2012 / $5.99 digital

Sometimes a vampire’s past can bite him in the ass.

Xan Marcelles—bassist for Crooked Fang, vampire and full-time asshole, is content with his quiet existence in the backwoods of Pinecliffe, Colorado. But life at the Pale Rider tavern is set to become a little more complicated when he gets entangled with a feisty, blue-haired damsel and her abusive soon-to-be ex boyfriend.

To add to his woes, he’s gone from hunter to hunted, and his past returns to haunt him when a phone call draws him back to New Mexico. With the help of friends from his living past, he must get to the bottom of a murder, and figure out where he stands with his lover and his band, all while keeping one step ahead of his enemies. Hiding won’t be easy for him, especially with a mysterious woman dogging him every step of the way.

Xan Marcelles is not your typical vampire, but as bassist for the band Crooked Fang, he operates exactly like most bass players I have known: Slightly shy, but with a hearty appreciation for the ladies. And yet, trouble follows Xan wherever he goes.

Carrie Clevenger’s male voice as Xan is honest, without flowery embellishment or real apology. Very much like many real men, not to mention musicians for that matter.

While Xan is every man, he certainly isn’t “every vamp.” No super powers for this guy, he can’t fly or teleport or even read minds. He’s just a guy with a bass and a ’67 Camaro RS. This is exactly how you get sucked into the book. He could easily be your best friend from college or the hot fellow next door—with the bloodsucking bits added. Don’t get me wrong, he does have some skills, he was “made” to be a killing machine—a trained assassin. Even though he claims to be retired, somehow he always finds himself loading guns into the trunk of his car, all the while bitching like a human.

I wasn’t made a vampire to lie around fancy mansions and wear ruffly shirts while bitching about the meaningless of my existence. I was put to work. I was changed so I could do the work. It was a miserable existence, but I really hadn’t had any sort of choice in the matter. I was told where to get my weapon, where to fire it, who to fire it on, where to sleep and what to eat. There was no glamour in hanging out in alleys waiting for dirty vagrant vampires to bother staggering out the back to retreat before the sun came up. I was working hard to forget that time before. My life was in Pale Rider. I was fucking retired from the extermination business.

Like many other men in the world, his antics with the ladies are humorous and strangely unvampiric. He isn’t able to charm a woman into bed with anything but his looks. so he gets screwed over just like a regular guy. His thoughts on sex made me question my significant other, who agreed that’s exactly how men think.

Hadn’t I been fair with her? I treated her right. I’d been a good friend. Why in the hell did she feel she had to jump in bed with that creep? What was wrong with women and their love of abusive boyfriends? I’d been mean to girls in my lifetime, not cruel like Arturo, but coldhearted. One-night stands only to never pick up a call from their number again. Maybe it was Karma or some shit. Maybe Tabby was just broken and needy beyond repair. I wasn’t the one that could fix her. I found myself with a terminal case of immortality with a side effect of drinking blood. Hah. And vampires were supposed to be all fop and poise, prancing around in fine clothes and using words nobody’d spoken in decades. I was just me, and I didn’t fit the archetype.

Xan’s troubles are often hilarious and yet epic, ranging from troublesome women to face eating zombies. Throw in the police and old friends from his “living” days and you have one rip-roaring ride.

Clevenger offers us realistic reasons to endear readers to her vampire and go through every little problem right alongside him. You laugh out loud, maybe get a bit squicked (Clevenger has a real talent for horror) and maybe even cry a few tears.

Synde Korman talks music and books on her website Tombstone Tails, along with creating a line of literary jewelry on her etsy site Cemetery Cat Designs.

When she’s not herding cats or creating art, she works as a part-time bookseller. You can find her on twitter as @psynde.

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1. SarannaDeWylde
It's on my TBR list and next in line. (I may have moved it up a little because I'm already crushing on him just a bit.)
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