Tor, $6.99, ISBN 0-812-58963-7
Horror, 2001 (Reissue)
Please note that Worse Than Death is the sequel to Love Bite, and hence. this entire review is a spoiler of the previous book. If you intend to read both books, I’d suggest you stick to reading Love Bite first before reading Worse Than Death or any review of the book.
Some sequels are plain unnecessary. At the end of Love Bite, LAPD cop Jace Levy has hooked up with vampire Risha Cardigan, the very vampire he and his partner Liz are hunting down throughout the entire novel. Worse Than Death follows Risha and Jace’s further adventures, and let’s just say it’s like reading about James Bond using the toilet or watching TV. Reading about Jace’s preoccupation with his non-cooperative penis is just not what a sequel should be, not after the very good Love Bite.
In this one, Jace is still wishy-washy about undergoing the Change despite his Huntington’s Disease manifesting its symptoms in menacing regularity (vampires don’t suffer from that disease, which is one of Jace’s reason to undergo the Change). Bored as he has nothing to do while Risha’s photography career takes off, he decides to take on a request for help from one Robert Brandon. Brandon is a movie maker who is being blackmailed. You see, the man has this nasty habit of asking auditioning actresses to reenact love scenes from famous movies with him. Now someone has gotten his or her hands on a tape and is asking money from him.
As Jace tracks down the various actresses in Brandon’s dossier, he also has to deal with Changing and the resulting male impotency that comes along with it. Everything goes down the giant urethra of stinkyville when Jace’s penis becomes the star of the third half. I wonder if Mr Penis should get a third billing in the inevitable TV-movie adaptation of this story. Listening to a man whine about his flaccid dicky is as fun as listening to tone-deaf people singing karaoke, especially when it leads to some embarrassingly contrived big misunderstandings.
Also, the misunderstandings bring out the worst from Jace and Risha, and at the end of the day, Jace has turned into nothing more than an emasculated aspiring serial adulterer (if only he can get it up, big sigh) and Risha a cold, emotionless character.
Sherry Gottlieb’s strongest points is her bringing out the brilliant eccentricities of her characters. In Love Bite, there is nothing like Ms Gottlieb bringing the City of Angels to life in all its shades of bizarre eccentricities, quirks, and nice/not-so-nice peccadilloes of its inhabitants. Worse Than Death, however, is more interested in Jace’s penis, and let’s just say an impotent penis is of no interest to anyone male or female if that thing can’t get it up (sorry guys, but that’s the harsh truth).
The mystery here is decent, but it is kept to the background for Jace’s you-know-what blues. Risha and Jace spend so much time pre-Change going at it that all those boinking become as tedious as that you-know-what blues. The only thought that lingers after the last page of Worse Than Death is “I waited seven years after Love Bite for… this?”