A strange boy-creature named Gabriel is said to be responsible for the missing children of a small town. The main character is Preston Howard, the town drunk and disgraced English professor. A young girl named Megan Guthrie is kidnapped by a creature in the form of a teenage boy. We later learn this young creature is a vampire named Gabriel. Preston finds Gabriel and possibly the body of the missing girl. But when he is brought in for questioning by Police Chief Nick Catesby, he is accused of drunk delusions, and worse, being the kidnapper himself.
Nick notices eerie similarities to the kidnapping of Megan, and another kidnapping that happened seven years earlier. Nick is conflicted about arrested Preston as he is falling in love with Preston's daughter Fanny. Nick visited Fanny at the library where she works to interrogate her about her father. There is palpable sexual tension, but neither acts on it.
Later, Preston is wandering drunk at night and is harassed by two teenage boys. The boys beat him and discuss killing him, claiming Preston must be the kidnapper and a pervert. Gabriel descends on the fight and attacks the two boys. Preston runs away screaming. He later wakes up to Gabriel who wants to befriend, in a manner of speaking, by sharing with him details of his life. Gabriel says that he keeps the children, drains them of their blood over a long period, and sometimes uses them as decoys. “Many sleeps ago,” Gabriel was hunted by villagers looking for lost children. One girl, pale and drained, had wandered delirious through the forest. The hunters, thinking she was a witch, plunged a knife through her heart and marveled at how little blood there was. Every so often, Gabriel will use one of the children as decoys to cover his tracks and remain in hiding.
Father Gregory Savartha runs into Preston the next day and asks for his opinion on the kidnapping. Preston quotes Shakespeare, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” but refuses to give a straight answer.
Later, Nick brings Mister Albright in to the police station for questioning after hearing a tip that his car was in the parking lot where Megan was kidnapped. Panicking, Albright goes home and hangs himself out of shame. The police discover gay porn and learn he was really in the parking lot meeting a gay lover, unbeknownst to his wife and son.
Preston finally tells Fanny that he has met Gabriel, and Fanny pulls the news articles of the missing children over many generations. Fanny is skeptical. Nick stops by and spends some time with Fanny before falling asleep.
Preston leaves in the middle of the night to find Gabriel's hideout. He discovers the missing children, including Megan half-dead, and tries to convince Gabriel to let the children go. Gabriel is angered by this, Preston weakly attacks him and fails. Gabriel's parting words are that he is coming for his daughter Fanny on Halloween night.
Gabriel shows up as a trick-or-treater and shows Fanny her dead cat in his bag. He enters the house and bites her just as Nick and Preston are arriving. They chase Gabriel to the church and find him hiding in the cellar. Gabriel begs Father Savartha for mercy claiming god created him. The Father says he is not human and not made in god's likeness and orders the execution. The police shoot Gabriel and bury his body in the cemetery with the headstone: “Gabriel – an unknown boy.”
Best part of story, including ending:
I really liked the dialogue between Preston (arrogant and intelligent) and Gabriel (strange creature justifying his predatory actions). I did not like Fanny's character as much, and wished she was written stronger.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when Preston is harassed by two teenage boys. It is very realistic and scary. The boys talk about killing him as though he is not even there, and are prejudice against him without knowing the facts.
Opinion about the main character:
Preston is the best character in the book. He is funny, arrogant, rude, condescending, sarcastic.