Jeff Rice – The Nightstalker – (Pocket Books, 1973)
What seems to have happened here is that Jeff Rice couldn’t find a publisher for his original novel. ABC liked the idea, brought in Richard Matheson to screenplay it and “The Night Stalker”, first screened on 11 January 1972, became the U.S.A.’s then highest rating made-for-TV movie, with over a third of the population tuning in. Pocket Books then published the novel as a tie-in.
It’s not clear to me whether this is what Rice originally submitted or if it’s been revamped in the wake of Matheson’s involvement. It’s a cracking read either way.
“In Las Vegas even the kinkiest crimes don’t cause much stir. Everyone’s used to it.
But now women are lying in alleys, gutters and parking lots – their bodies drained of blood! Is it possible? A vampire stalking the Las Vegas streets?”
Carl Kolchak, a cynical, slightly down-at-heel Las Vegas Daily News reporter doesn’t just think so, he knows so, but he’s having a tough time of it getting people to believe him. Constantly sparring with his bosses and the authorities (Rice had worked for The Las Vegas Sun), Kolchak turns the hunt for the killer into something of a crusade. He winds up frustrated and dismissed from his job, but there’s a sense that he’s redeemed himself in his own eyes.
The vampire, Janos Skorzeny, proves a ruthless adversary, and his nasty streak isn’t confined to the odd murder. He’s frugal, too: why drink your victim all in one gulp when you can take them home, strap them to a bed, and return to them every time you get thirsty?