Saturday, 20 July 2013

Acid Jazz Singer by Nya Rawlins.

Review by Bill Kirton

The popularity of vamp literature means that its stories are becoming repetitive and sometimes appear to be written by people who only know the clich├ęs and not what they represent. On the other hand, there are those with a deeper understanding of the myths and the subconscious urges they represent. Nya Rawlins is one such person. In The Acid Jazz Singer, vampirism is just one of the threads of a gripping, pacey story whose narrator has the sharpness, wit and immediacy of the classic private eye of crime fiction. There’s eroticism, shape-shifting (and perhaps its ultimate manifestation – transgendering), all set in a moral context in which good and bad seem negotiable. The action sequences are breathtaking and Rawlins is in complete control of her medium, whichever of the levels she’s handling.

And these various threads aren’t simply exercises in genre-mixing, they’re woven together in a texture which extends the vamp metaphor of draining the essence from another and fuses it with love and its ambiguities. Travis, the narrator, is far from the conventional hero, the characters who surround him are complex beings themselves who resist easy pigeonholing and, amongst the violence, eroticism and mayhem, there’s a sweet central tenderness linking him with the transsexual he protects and loves, RayLee.

This is the first of a series and, even as its resolution answers some of the narratives challenges, it’s clear that there are more ahead for Travis and that some of these scenes may be revisited. It’s a very satisfying book, an excellent, page-turning read and a story which transcends the limits of genre fiction.