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The Knighton Vampires

Novel by Guy N Smith (England) 1993.

John Mayo, of the secret Government Department codenamed Operation Werewolf, loses his wife of only a few years, and heads away from the memories to recover his wits. He ends up in the Welsh town of Knighton which has recently come to grips with the graffiti and terrorism of Welsh National Activists, as well as a number of mysterious deaths seemingly through vampirism. Mayo believes he sees his dead wife among the vampires, and investigates. As the death toll mounts and the plot complicates, he fights his way to the bottom of the whole affair to find that all the different strands of trouble actually stem from the same place.

Like The Black Fedora which preceded it, this is much more a thriller than a horror novel, though with the infamous name of Guy N Smith on the cover, it could hardly be categorised as much else. This really deserved to be something special: its history has it that it was originally due to be published by Sphere Books, but due to Robert Maxwell falling off his boat, everything was scuppered. Eventually Piatkus picked up the contract, and issued the first Guy Smith novel ever to appear in hardback. It's also the first of his books to feature himself - in his Sabat series, Mark Sabat had pretty much the same details as Guy: date of birth, parents' names, schools attended etc - but here he appears as himself, not just as he'd like himself to be. He doesn't go all the way to the Clive Cussler level and give himself a 'speaking part', but maybe that's a coming attraction. As it all turns out, it isn't something special. It is a good book, it has got some good ideas - the vampirism is not treated as you'd expect - and all in all it's a fun read, but there's nothing groundbreaking. You can't really go too far wrong with a post 1970s Guy Smith novel, but this one doesn't have that magic touch to turn a good book into a classic. But read it and see for yourself: it's worth it.


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