By Gary L. Holleman
If you enjoy a classic werewolf tale (pun
intended) that takes a few interesting diversions from the standard lore,
this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a fright-inducing
Halloween story, look elsewhere.
Leisure Books, 313 pp, 1996
Cyrus Trigg is a down-on-his-luck
self-employed bodyguard living in Memphis when a mysterious, beautiful
lady, Kyna Rand, hires him to protect her while she travels the western
U.S. and Canada selling diamonds for her employer and one-time lover,
Bryan Douglas. Little does she know that she possesses a powerful talisman
that a Douglas henchman stole from a powerful sorcerer in Africa. She
thinks it is just a pretty necklace. Naturally, this sorcerer, The Dark
Man, wants it back, and he and two apprentices use their dark magic to
track Cyrus and Vance on their journey. From Memphis.
Shortly into their trip, a wolf that is
really a projection conjured by The Dark Man and controlled by his
bumbling apprentice attacks Cyrus and Kyna. The wolf bites Cyrus and is
about to munch on Kyna when the bodyguard plunges a sharp stick through
its back. Incredibly, the wolf bite heals quickly, in just two hours, and
Cyrus soon realizes he is a werewolf.
The rest of the novel follows Cyrus and
Kyna through Alberta, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Tucson, and
finally Albuquerque. Along the way, they fight off powerful zombies, both
real and supernatural snakes, and enlist the aid of dead spirits killed by
the Dark Man who inhabit the skeletons of the ancient Anasazi Indians.
And, of course, Cyrus and Vance start out hating each but quickly end up
in bed. Several times.
Holleman has written a well-paced and
entertaining book. He takes a few detours from the usual werewolf lore –
silver and the full moon mean nothing. Holleman’s werewolf is immortal
(only beheading can kill him) and can change at any time.
Unfortunately, the Halloween link is
weak. The Dark Man needs the talisman because it protects him from the
vengeful spirits of past victims, of which there are many, who emerge on
Halloween night to extract revenge. Holleman explains this in the
beginning and then mostly ignores it, making this a fine werewolf novel
that only happens to take place around Halloween.