Chill #4 (Vegas Vampire)
Jory Sherman | Pinnacle Books | 1980 | 173 pages
An enjoyable, but completely disposable entry in the “Chill” Chillders supernatural investigation series, with tacky Vegas fashions—ranging from pink polo shirt ensembles to a variety of dazzling pantsuits—stealing interest away from its tale of a vampire manipulated into serving its human benefactor’s interests.
Following his keynote speech at the First Annual Psychic Seminar in Las Vegas (greeted with a round of thunderous applause), psychic investigator Dr. Russell V. “Chill” Chillders is approached by Captain Loomis of the Las Vegas Police Department. Under the advice of pathologist Dr. Bill Patterson, Loomis enlists Chill’s aid in solving the mysterious death of a local showgirl, whose blood-drained body was found in the dry creek bed beyond the Gold Dust Queen Casino where she worked. But it was the puncture wounds on the victim’s throat that led Patterson to believe that the perpetrator was of supernatural origin—a conclusion Chill never doubts.
Chill and his team—Laura Littlefawn, his half-Sioux clairvoyant assistant, and Hal Strong, literature professor and expert in the occult—discover that this death is only the latest in a string of killings targeting the showgirls at the Gold Dust Queen. The casino’s owner Ramsey Bullock, a prancing, pink-clad caricature sporting an effeminate watch and gold slippers, suspects the involvement of his rival Amelia Robinson, owner of the neighboring Silver Foxxe Casino. After a brief meeting with Amelia, Chill quickly deduces her role in the affair, and in no time is exploring the underground tunnels beneath the casinos to uncover the vampire’s lair.
Vegas Vampire holds very little mystery, since Amelia’s role in controlling the vampire is revealed in the early pages of the story. Chill’s team is also severely underutilized in this outing, with Laura Littlefawn in particular reduced to a glorified clothes horse, existing solely to make dramatic entrances wearing her butter-yellow pantsuit and turquoise jewelry, rather than engaging in any feats of psychic detection. Speaking of pantsuits, Amelia sports her own tight-fitting model splashed with silver glitter, enhanced by her complete look consisting of false eyelashes, patent leather shoes, and long cigarette holder. Chill himself is in cool form, sipping his orange juice and munching on sesame sticks in his polo shirt and crisply pressed slacks, while doing very little actual detective work—psychic or otherwise.
Disappointingly, the text hints at, but never develops, the idea that monsters of myth such as vampires exist as projections into reality from our own primordial dream state. Following this conceptual strand could have taken Vegas Vampire to a much more original and satisfying place than its silver-staking and burning-in-the-sun finale.