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Author Topic: Acracknophobia by Mark Jackman  (Read 1297 times)
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« on: May 05, 2012, 03:17:05 PM »

Acracknophobia: The Sid Tillsley Chronicles Book 3 by Mark Jackman
Reviewed by Geoff Nelder

Sid, whose fist is its own vampire slayer, has gone soft for the sake of a woman. This is disastrous news for people and a relief for vampires, but how long will it last?

ISBN 978-1905091935
ASIM for Kindle B007IVM674
347 pages
LL-Publications 2012

Vampires and humans live in an uneasy peace, under an alliance called the Coalition – not that the public are aware, except those who are inadvertently taken as food. Some of the humans and vampire committee members get on well, but as in all such high-powered gatherings there is political infighting, human manoeuvring and subhuman shenanigans. In the previous two books, Sid and a few pals, living in the Northeast of England, drink Bolton Bitter beer and it seems this empowers their anti-vampire abilities. Book Three, in typical hilarity, sees a scientific analysis of the lowest order and we are ultimately treated to an explanation of how Bolton Bitter has such magical powers.

Before then the book opens with an unexpected first chapter. We have a rare creature – King – a half-breed vampire, who is more into music and burgers than arteries. He is as welcome a break from the usual vampire as Sid is to vampire slayers. The opening chapter, like all the chapters, leave the reader hooked, eager to devour the next. Shortly after we meet King, we are driving along the M56 with his hard-nosed dad, Borg, a ruthless vampire, whose very existence makes this book cold to the touch. I mention the M56 because I know it well, being my local road (when not cycling – I get shouted at otherwise) and Borg is going to Middlesbrough, where my first publisher lives. So many connections to my own life in this book makes me nervous.

With Sid what you get is more than what you see. He’s a giant of an unpolitical uncouth man with a big heart and a vampire-deadly fist offering readers a continuation of his unique character. You can’t help liking him even if you’d cross the city to avoid meeting him on a dark night. Sid wouldn’t hurt a fly, unless it sucked blood. With King we have a completely new dimension in species-related literature. Fascinating.     

In some ways this is a more thoughtful novel than the first two. Loose ends need to be tied up. Fear not you fans of Sid, your ribs will ache with mirth as he is obliged by his new fiancée to attend homophobic-adjustment sessions to modify his attitude to ‘them lot’, and alcoholics anonymous, which he understands not at all being as Bolton Bitter is not so much a problem as a solution. These counselling sessions go against Sid’s persona but without them there would be no ‘Howay the lads’ with Sheila Fishman and her alluring jugs. His feelings go deeper than mere looks. As she steps out of car ‘both of Sid’s cold feet warmed up’. What a great romantic line. Seriously.

Sid’s homophobia takes a hefty knock when the counsellor informs the group that even some penguins are gay. Sid eyes, suspiciously, the chocolate wrappers on the table and asks, ‘Is it catching?’ Sadly for Sid the Miner’s Arms is now The First Swallow of Spring and so he’s not wanting to grace an establishment of ‘them lot’.

The efforts of people to solve the mysteries in Book Three that were presented in the first two books takes us into partially familiar analysis. Arthur: ‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbably, must be the truth.’
‘That’s deep, man. Is that some sort of quote?’
‘Aye... Colombo.’

Each chapter ends with a hook just as each starts with a pity media quote – a commentary to the whole gory story. It’s a mystery, a wonderment, how Jackman kept track of the twists and body count. Not even the most teeth-sharpened vampire aficionado will be able to guess how this one ends. I commend this book to all readers of both humour and vampire genres. Enjoy.
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