Review (Novel) – “The Lesser Dead” by Christopher Buehlman

Let me preface this by saying, as a general rule, I don’t “do” contemporary vampire novels. To be honest, pop-culture has all-but ripped the fangs out of vampires. Few and far between are tales of these monstrous masters of the undead that are actually visceral and scary.  I want my vampires to be frightening. I don’t want to fall in love with them. I want to be afraid of them, in those little cowering monkey-places that keep me scared of the dark.  I picked this book up on a recommendation and I’m glad I did.  Simply put, it is my favorite book of 2016 so far, and in the vein of “scary vampires” it’s a triumph that does not disappoint.  Now, the rest of the story…



I picked up a copy of “The Lesser Dead” on Audible Audiobook and not only was it my favorite novel of 2016 to-date, it’s also one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in years.  The book is narrated by the author Christopher Buehlman, and in my experience, authors generally give mediocre performances at best as narrators.  Not so with Buehlman’s performance of The Lesser Dead. His characterization and dramatic performance is absolutely first rate. I’ll be comparing other audiobook performances to this one for a very long time to come.

The story itself hit two personal home-runs for me right out of the gate.

First, the vampires were scary.  Dark, hungry, scary things that lived and hunted in the shadows of New  York. And much to my joy, they only got scarier as the book went along. Which, frankly, was a hell of an accomplishment on the part of Buehlman.  More than that though, the characters themselves (the people they’d been in life and the creatures they became in undeath) were refreshingly, and even at times, upsettingly real.  They weren’t all pampered little whitebread vampiric offspring of thoughtful doctors and upper middle class gentle souls.  Most of them had raw, dirty, and utterly believable origins.  Buehlman did a phenomenal job of bringing the lives they had lived into their existence as vampires in the grim underworld ruins of New York City.

Second, it’s a period piece, and a masterfully done one at that, set in one of my favorite, iconic settings – 1970s New York.  Buehlman’s narrative of New York was alive with the sights, sounds, and smells of the city’s late Sodom and Gomorrah period.  The dirty New York from the ’70s people prefer to talk about in the past-tense.

Remember when I said that Buehlman’s vampires only get scarier as the book goes along? I mean it. Follow the blood flowing in the cracks and gutters to the very end, and I promise you, your skin will crawl while the Rolling Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” echoes in your head.  Don’t trust the children…

A solid-gold 5 out of 5 star read.  A glorious, nasty reminder of why you fear the dark…

“The Lesser Dead” by Christopher Buehlman: on Audible, on Amazon, on Goodreads


  1. Thank you for such a well written and, in my personal opinion, accurate review of Christopher Buehlman’s, “The Lesser Dead.” If you would allow me to give you one small bit of advice….pick up his most recent work, “Suicide Motor Club.” I suspect you will enjoy it even more than Lesser Dead and, assuming I’m correct, I look forward to your review of his newest…

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