In this horror comedy, residents and medical experts scramble as a vampiric plague hits New Mexico in the mid-1980s. The notoriety of a man dying just outside his store pushes manager Blake Barker to move his family out of Santa Fe. But at the Las Cruces hardware shop he manages, someone else dies in a similar fashion—this time with puncture wounds. They’re not unlike bites you’d see, as Blake puts it, “in an old, stupid 1950s vampire movie.” The Barkers’ family caretaker, Lorena Pastore, is certain it’s a disease she’s seen before, one that usually crops up every couple of decades. Indeed, their next-door neighbor Romero Lopes soon displays symptoms of vampirism, from his newly formed fangs to his cravings for blood and internal organs. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control roll into town and try to contain the outbreak, but quarantining people does little to stop Romero’s murderous rampages. Lorena, meanwhile, struggles to convince the Barkers that “los vampiros” are real, and Blake and his family learn that a human can transform into a vampire from other ways than a bite. Hill and Cavaretta inject a surprising amount of dark humor into their series opener. For example, one character’s mutilation by Romero’s fangs as well as the subsequent developments are played for laughs. But other parts of the story the authors take seriously, like medical experts’ remarkable, jargon-laden dialogue about specific causes of the disease and potential vaccines. The tale moves at a steady clip notwithstanding its hefty cast
of locals, CDC scientists, and military personnel. They endure brutal vamp attacks, unexpected deaths, and even murders
committed by the uninfected. The uncredited illustrations give this book a surreal quality, including an image of a couple
whose apparent embrace resembles both a dance and a bloody vampire assault. Unfortunately, there’s neither a
resolution nor a cliffhanger, as the authors save key details for the sequel.
An absorbing and often droll vampire tale with an eclectic cast.
In author Don W. Hill, M.D.’s The DNR Trilogy: Volume 1: Backing the Wrong Primate, the author explores the concept of morality and justice through the eyes of a doctor with a haunting secret. A brilliant oncologist begins to write down the painful and harrowing story of his younger years, as the once promising physician experienced a series of tragic and dehumanizing events which began to degrade his own morality. As the years went on, Brewster would become the last man standing in a series of orchestrated acts of vigilante justice using his medical profession, compelling him in the future to put his journey down to paper to record the awful experiences and moments that have haunted him for so many years.
The novel itself is haunting and expertly crafted. While mystery and suspense play a large role in the novel’s arc, the story serves best as a character study. The evolution of Brewer as a character, from starting the book at the end of his career and seeing the psychological and emotional toll his life’s events have played on him, to jumping backwards and seeing his start in the medical field, really highlighted the strains that medical professionals are under both in learning the field and their specialties in treating their patients. This blended naturally with the examination of human suffering and morality as a whole, as it showcased what happens when those who seek to heal and care for humanity are confronted with the absolute worst that humanity has to offer, and how it can change a person overall.
This is the perfect read for those who enjoy mystery, suspense, and thriller genres. In particular, those who enjoy medical thrillers and medical suspense stories are going to absolutely love this read, especially as it serves as the first in a series and includes some pretty in-depth and gritty character development. As a fan of this genre and someone who worked in the medical field for a time, the story and the attention to detail that the medical terminology and aspects of the narrative showed felt natural and engaging.
Thoughtful, entertaining, and with a haunting tone, author Don W. Hill, M.D.’s The DNR Trilogy: Volume 1: Backing the Wrong Primate is a must-read medical thriller. The exploration of everything from a doctor’s moral responsibility, the use of primates for experiments in medicine, racial injustice, and how to treat prisoners as patients really kept the reader invested and engaged in this narrative, as did the intense character study.