Necroscope by Brian Lumley
This another book that follows multiple groups (I seem to be picking up a lot of these lately).
Harry Keogh can talk to the dead. They tutor him in math, use him to write their life stories, and share their secrets with him. Sometimes, they share their deaths with him, like his mother, a murder victim. And sometimes, Harry seeks revenge.
Outside Harry’s connection to the dead, two government agencies for humans with special gifts (the British ESP and the Soviet ESP) are in a cold war. Each seeks to increase their power within their own government as well as to stop the talent acquisition of the other.
Boris Dragonsani hears a voice in a grave and hunts out the secret to this mysterious voice. The vampire Ferenczy promises Dragonsani knowledge in exchange for freedom. First, young Dragosani learns how to rip the secrets from the dead. Next, he learns how to steal the powers of other ESP talented humans. Finally he plans to take over the world.
Dragosani and Keogh’s paths cross one cold winter day when Harry confronts his mother’s murderer. They have their final stand off when Harry attacks Dragosani at the Soviet ESP fortress.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This is everything I want from book one in a series.
It had characters I was intrigued by. Harry starts a little boring as a boy who can’t stay focused, but little bits of his life are intriguing like his interest in snooping and his lack of competitiveness. In comparison, Dragosani begins very interestingly as a man who enjoys ripping the memories out of people and sleeps naked next to dead people.
The plot was a complete stand alone novel. The prologue promised me that the Soviets would soon lose a large number of followers. By the end, they did. The story promised me Harry Keogh would be an important key the survival and success of the ESP, and he was. Harry is the downfall, a lone warrior really, marching into battle against the Soviet ESP. The story promised me power plays and political intrigue, and by the end, they happened. Yet, there are enough intrigues and side plots happening in this story that they left me wanting novel two and three and so on. (good thing, there are more.)
The story telling contained little hints and details that lent credibility to the setting and characters. The Soviets play a large role in the story and there are little word choices that are very reminiscent of Russian, i.e. calling swimsuits costumes and windshields wind screens. Little choices throughout the story made the cultures feel authentic rather than contrived.
I really don’t have much negative to say about this story. If I had to pick something, just to have a negative to balance the positives, I guess I could point to some of the standard tropes appearing particularly in reference to vampires. They are weak to wooden steaks, silver, beheading, and fire. The need blood to survive. Then again, these vampires are symbiotic creature which live inside humans. I guess a negative might be some of the predictability of the story. It was not hard to guess, Dragosani was being trapped by a vampire, that Harry managed to time travel, that Harry’s talents came from the dead. None of that really bothered me as I was reading.
All in all, I give this one high marks.