Werewolf Smackdown; Mario Acevedo’s Latino vampire detective goes south

Werewolf Smackdown is Mario Acevedo’s fifth book starring Felix Gomez, perhaps the only Latino vampire detective.  One of the biggest problems in series novels is keeping them fresh; thus, although the “hero” remains the same, it is important that the villains and locales change.

Although both Acevedo and Gomez reside in Denver, the author sends his detective south for this book, and this time the heartless vampire, who wonders why he still has feelings, takes on lycanthropes.

In a recent interview Acevedo talked about using different supernatural villains and settings to keep his series from getting stale:

…there is a lot of antagonism between the werewolves and the vampires, and they’re always talking trash to one another.  After I had finished writing the third book, I realized that I should start introducing different kinds of supernatural characters, other than the aliens and vampires from those books.  Then I thought, You’ve got to have zombies.  And then, after (Jailbait Zombie), I thought what other supernatural creatures can I use?  And the one that is really powerful is the werewolf.

(Gomez) starts out in Denver, but most of the next book takes place in Charleston.  Charleston is a great historical city with a spooky atmosphere.  And there are werewolves.  The premise is that there are these two factions of werewolves and it’s threatening to turn into a civil war.  When I thought of this idea, it didn’t occur to me that Charleston was actually the place where the real Civil War started with Fort Sumter and all.  So that just worked out.

After werewolves and Charleston, who knows what or where?

The alpha werewolf of the South has died in a plane crash.  Both of the clan alphas competing to take over want Gomez’s help in destroying the other one.   This is more important than just a couple of canines wanting the top spot, because the threat of a werewolf civil war could cause the revelation to human beings of the “Great Secret”—that supernatural beings exist all around them.  And the Araneum, the hierarchy of vampires, definitely does not want that.

To make matters worse all of this is happening within days of the most important full moon in decades.  Felix is informed that thousands of werewolves are meeting in Charleston for Le Circle de Sang et Crocs.  When Gomez is informed his typical smartass attitude comes out: “‘The Circle of blood and…crocs?’ I interrupted. ‘Crocs, like the shoes?'”  “‘No, crocs is French for “fangs.”‘”  In other words, it will be very easy for things to get out of control fast.

In short order several attempts are made on Gomez’s life.  He is nearly crushed by a 10-foot fiberglass crab.  A couple of rogue vampires try to take him out.  The limousine he is traveling in is T-boned on the highway, and some werewolves jump him in an alley.  Obviously, someone doesn’t want him getting at the truth.  And there are rumors that his nemesis, Julius Paxton, is in town.

Before it is over, Felix will make a few more enemies and reunite with some old friends.

The action is pretty much non-stop as Gomez goes against all the vampire rules to try to keep the supernatural world from being turned on its ear.

Acevedo gets better with each book.  The dialogue has a truer ring and the characters are smoother than in earlier episodes.  Werewolf Smackdown is his best work so far.  What could be better than Charleston and werewolves and vampires, and…I forgot…a pretty ghost with an obsession for strawberry ice cream?

Mark Graham reviewed books for the Rocky Mountain News from 1977 until the paper closed its doors in February 2009. His “Unreal Worlds” column on science fiction and fantasy appeared regularly in the paper for over 20 years. He has reviewed well over 1,000 genre books. If you see a Rocky Mountain News blurb on a book, it is likely from a review or interview he wrote.  Graham also created and taught Unreal Literature, a high school science fiction class, for nearly 30 years in the Jefferson County Colorado public schools.


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