Even if not everybody loves a good vampire epic I certainly do, and “The Strain”, published by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan in 2009, fills the bill. The vampires are imagined as a form of retro-virus that instead of being a submicroscopic entity that acts to subvert individual cells, is big enough to see and subverts whole organs, very quickly transforming the whole human body.
The book begins when an old master vampire is shipped to New York in a large coffin stowed on a plane. He manages to leave the cargo hold and dispatch approximately 200 passengers and crew members in the minutes immediately following the plane’s landing at JFK. How? No explanation was forthcoming by the end of the book. The authors may get back to this initial problem in book two or three of this trilogy, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Another bothersome aspect of these vampires is that for unknown and probably not about to be explained reasons, they can’t cross moving water on their own. Why-ever not? Probably just to make it barely possible to stop the vampire plague from expanding beyond Manhattan.
On the positive side, there is an old Jewish pawnbroker who has chased the Master vampire ever since he saw him at work on concentration camp victims during World War II, a heroically stubborn epidemiologist who can’t be shaken off the trail of this new epidemic, and the immoral sickly billionaire who has apparently shipped the vampire in the hope of achieving a gruesome form of eternal life and is guaranteed to come to a bad end.
The battle of the good guys seems hopeless, since all the supposed corpses from the plane have spread out and begun to create more vampires. But wait! There are already equally old vampires in the New World, and they are about to take steps to counter the interloper.
Del Toro and Hogan deserve credit for producing an original back story for vampires, but their disgusting creatures will never replace quintessential Hungarian gentleman Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula in my heart. This is the place to share a memorable experience that occurred when I entered a pitch black laboratory late one night. I was unaware that a fellow student from Hungary was inside until a male voice out of the darkness said, “Good ee-ven-ing.”