Book Review: ‘Evenings on Dark Island’

Evenings on Dark IslandEvenings on Dark Island by Rhett Devane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What do the rich and famous, a Florida swamp, an expensive upscale spa, a rat-faced dog, state-of-the-art galas, NASCAR, pot, an inner garden of rare hybrid plants and vampires have in common?

The standard answer is nothing.

But in Evenings on Dark Island authors Rhett DeVane and Larry Rock have turned the highly improbable into a hilarious and tastefully bloody neck biter that’s quite something.

Vincent Bedsloe, who has party planning in blood that’s not altogether his, is the flamboyant, details-oriented master of an exclusive spa set in the middle of an isolated Florida island where the rich and spoiled come to be drained of their income–and perhaps a bit more–while they are ramped up into an ecstatic level of health and fitness.

Bedsloe, who ponders over the emotions of his guests–emotions he no longer has–often retreats into an inner sanctum where he watches old movies and gets his kicks by debunking the silly vampire lore flowing out of Hollywood like blood from a burst artery.

Vincent is a kind-hearted vampire who cares about his human guests. Even his NASCAR-crazed, white trash vampire mechanic Jimmy Rob has an occasional redeeming thought: “He led her to the far, shadowy corner of the bar, behind a thick hedge. Kissed her again. Nibbled her neck. Bit down and drank until he felt her knees buckle. He pulled back abruptly. No need to kill the gal. She’d had a hard enough life.”

The only somewhat normal person in the book is DEA agent Reanita Geneva Register who has been inserted into the mix by the Feds at great expense to prove the obscure island is a haven for drug smugglers. Posing as a rich heiress, Register not only feels naked without her gun but a little nonplussed by her ability to enjoy the island’s pleasures.

The tight-lipped Dark Island staff are notoriously loyal to their employer and, with the annual Blue Blood Ball benefit for the American Hemophiliac Association fast approaching, much too busy to be easily questioned about the strange boats passing in the night.

The authors advertise Evenings on Dark Island as a fang-in-tooth spoof of the vampire genre. And what a spoof it is. This book is not only inventive and well crafted, but it’s filled with the kinds of one-liners and puns that will even wake the undead.

The plot, characters and setting work to perfection without blood, gore and body counts. While the spa at Dark Island may not be the transfusion you need for your physical health and well being in real life, DeVane’s and Rock’s collaboration has a high-clotting factor as well as the kinds of hijinks that will have you laughing all the way to the blood bank.

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Malcolm R. Campbell , who would never dream of writing about vampires, is the author of Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, a novel that satirizes the blood suckers in government and the newspaper business.