At the end of the Author’s Note for The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix tells you everything you need to know before diving in to his new novel: “I wanted to pit Dracula against my mom. As you’ll see, it’s not a fair fight.”
Patricia Campbell is living the “American Dream”. She is married to an ambitious psychiatrist, has two children, a girl and a boy, and lives in a somewhat exclusive neighborhood near Charleston, South Carolina. She keeps house, runs the necessary errands, ferries her kids to their various meetings and practices. And she attends her book club, where each month she and her group of similarly domesticated friends read trashy crime-related novels, or true crime books to liven up their otherwise ordinary lives. That is, until James Harris moves into the neighborhood. Young, unattached and charismatic, James is more than a bit of a mystery. It doesn’t help that he arrived with a bag full of cash and no ID. The book club begins to suspect that there is something odd about James Harris. When young children begin to go missing in a nearby neighborhood, they begin to suspect that James may have something to do with it. . .
Starting his tale in the late 1980s and continuing through the 1990s, Hendrix has written a love letter to mothers, all mothers, of every age and demeanor. Those women who tirelessly look after their families, and help out with their friends’ families, filling their days with the tasks that provide stability for those they love. Hendrix illustrates how strong, fierce and resourceful these women can (and will!) become when their loved ones are endangered. This isn’t a new concept. One needs only to think of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Aliens for an extreme example of maternal protection. But by setting this novel in a quiet suburb populated with soccer moms whose most pressing question of the day could be the best way to remove a stain, Hendrix brings the idea literally home and, as he says in the Author’s Note, it’s not, and never was a fair fight. By now we should all know just how formidable these women are. Hendrix simply provides an enjoyable, and at times hysterical, and other times horrifying, reminder.
Here is an interview with Grady Hendrix.