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Never Cross a Vampire (1980)

by Stuart M. Kaminsky

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Toby Peters (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1505152,705 (3.5)2
Coffins fill the basement of a crumbling Los Angeles movie theater. Five vampires crowd around fading horror idol Bela Lugosi, peppering him with questions. A malfunctioning plastic fang causes one of the undead-wannabes to lisp. The effect is less than fearsome, but Lugosi is terrified, for one of these oddballs has been making threats on his life. He hires Toby Peters to provide security against his unbalanced fans. The detective is not concerned, but he should be. Even fake vampires can kill. Meanwhile, the Warner brothers contact Peters regarding a murder. A body has surfaced in one of Hollywood's darker corners, and police suspicion has fallen on one of the studio's star screenwriters: William Faulkner. As he struggles to balance the murder investigation while protecting Lugosi, Peters finds a thread connecting the two cases. To get Faulkner off the hook, he'll have to find out who wants to kill Hollywood's original Dracula.… (more)
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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
Bela Lugosi is being threatened and William Faulkner is in jail, framed for murder. Toby is up to his badly banged-up skull in wanna-be vampires, bad Hollywood writers, and his brother Phil, the cop who delivers most of his injuries.
Another fun romp through a nostalgic, early 1940s LA with Toby Peters, the dedicated, reasonably competent PI with Hollywood connections. With help from his friends, Gunther, a polyglottal Swiss midget and Butler, his ex-wrestler office landlord.
I always enjoy these books. For whatever reason, I embrace the romanticism of Toby and his life in Mrs. Plaut's rooming house and his small cubby-office off of Sheldon Minck's terrible dentist office. His brother, the police lieutenant who takes out his frustrations by beating on Toby, his ex-wife who has had enough of his bs, and his sense of fair play that puts him in a lot of his near-fatal situations.

Here's Toby,in a nutshell:
"'No money,' I said...
'And no offers of flesh,either,' I added. 'I have no ambition,' I explained. 'Absolutely none. I don't want or need a lot of money. I have no dreams money can buy. What I always need is just a little more than I've got, not a lot more, and I'm not about to be bought in for a few hundred dollars. It's a bind, but it keeps my reputation clean and my suits old.'
'And when you go to that great Pinkerton agency in the sky, they may reward you bymaking you a night watchman on the gate of heaven,' she spat.
'Or the gate of hell,' I added. 'I'd like that.'"

That's my Toby. ( )
  James_Patrick_Joyce | Oct 24, 2020 |
Pulpy fun thanks to breezy B-movie noir dialogue that will be sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who enjoys dime-store mystery novels set in LA with a PI and plenty of rain and red herrings. The inclusion of Lugosi is handled well, although Faulkner's appearance doesn't add much, and his character is not written in an endearing way; his scenes tends to drag the short book. Otherwise, the story moves along pretty fast with a crazy cast of characters that play well together. A guilty pleasure that's good to waste an afternoon with. ( )
  Humberto.Ferre | Sep 28, 2016 |
Originally written in the 1970s and set in the 1940s, this mystery had a very film noir, dark and gritty atmosphere. I liked Toby as a character but I could not follow the murder mystery plot or figure out how he was solving it. I’m not sure if this was because I listened to it on audio and so I couldn’t flip back and re-read parts or if it was the book’s fault. I suspect some of both.

I liked all the voices the narrator did except for Toby. The book is written in first person from Toby’s point of view so there is a lot of Toby’s voice. I think he was trying to make Toby seem cool and confident but most of the time Toby sounded bored.

The author often had Toby commenting on how much something costs or what news is on the radio as he’s driving around. If you have nostalgia for the 1940s or the past in general, I think you’ll find this interesting. ( )
  mcelhra | Mar 19, 2013 |
Enjoyable tale that includes Bela Lugosi and William Faulkner as characters (Faulkner accused of murder and arrested, and Toby Peters has to get him off). Story takes place in 1942 and there are many product and entertainment references from that time. I think Kaminsky got it wrong when he wrote about an event on the Fibber McGee and Molly program where the mayor wanted McGee to run for water commissioner against Gildersleeve, but by that time Gildersleeve was living in a different town, so the two could not have opposed one another for the position. But overall, a very entertaining book. -- Read January 2010 -- ( )
  TiedGame | Jan 3, 2010 |
This is an interesting enough book to pass an evening with. It is definitely in the mystery genre rather than the vampire genre. Nothing horrifying about it other than some of the characters. It you like PI books you’ll like this one. The inverse holds true as well. ( )
  hermit_9 | Mar 26, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kaminsky, Stuart M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bosonetto, MarcoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Iskowitz, JoelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Coffins fill the basement of a crumbling Los Angeles movie theater. Five vampires crowd around fading horror idol Bela Lugosi, peppering him with questions. A malfunctioning plastic fang causes one of the undead-wannabes to lisp. The effect is less than fearsome, but Lugosi is terrified, for one of these oddballs has been making threats on his life. He hires Toby Peters to provide security against his unbalanced fans. The detective is not concerned, but he should be. Even fake vampires can kill. Meanwhile, the Warner brothers contact Peters regarding a murder. A body has surfaced in one of Hollywood's darker corners, and police suspicion has fallen on one of the studio's star screenwriters: William Faulkner. As he struggles to balance the murder investigation while protecting Lugosi, Peters finds a thread connecting the two cases. To get Faulkner off the hook, he'll have to find out who wants to kill Hollywood's original Dracula.

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