(pb; 2005: fifth book in The Manitou series)
From the back cover:
"A bizarre epidemic is sweeping New York City. Doctors can only watch, as, one by one, victims fall prey to a very unusual blood disorder. They become unable to eat solid food, are extremely sensitive to daylight -- and they have an irresistible need to drink human blood. . .
"As panic, bloodlust and death grip the city, a few begin to consider the unimaginable: Could the old folktales and legends be true? Could the epidemic be the work of. . . vampires? Their search for the truth will lead them to shadowy realms where very few dare to go. They will seek help from both the living and the dead. And they will realize that their worst fear was only the beginning."
Masterton takes a comic book approach to the fifth Manitou book. He drops the reader in the middle of the storyline, then, as the action advances, fills in the backstory bit by bit. This is the most frenetic entry in The Manitou series.
When Frank Winter, a medical doctor, helps a young street mime (Susan Fireman) recover from a strange epileptic attack, he has no idea that this will be a kick-off event in even an larger medical catastrophe. It seems Susan has a mysterious disease that causes her to have a life-threatening fever, one that makes her violently crave the blood of other people.
Susan is not the only fever victim. All across the city, the death toll is rising. As Frank tries to figure out what's causing this disaster, he encounters Gil Johnson (a thirty-something National Guardsman), Jenica Dragomir (intellectual daughter of Razvan Dragomir, an expert on Romanian vampirism), and con man-psychic Harry Erskine.
Together, they will confront this transmutated disease (as well as its carriers) -- an oft-taled sickness that has now reached civilization-threatening proportions, and is tied to an even more powerful evil. . . an evil that Harry has battled four times* before.
Fun and fast-moving, this. Given the novel's dash-from-Word-One set-up, and its different take on vampirism (as well as its different handling of the Manitou's role in all this), this is one of the best, more distinctive novels in The Manitou series.
Followed by Blind Panic.
(*Harry Erskine and Misquamacus also tangled in a short story, "Spirit Jump," which takes place between Burial and Manitou Blood. This story appeared in the 1996 Faces of Fear anthology.)