Anne Rice returns with a new ‘Lestat’ vampire chronicle

Anne Rice has written about vampires, witches, ghosts, spirits, demons, werewolves and the reanimated mummies of Ramses II and Cleopatra. She’s notoriously eccentric, once arriving for a signing at a New Orleans bookstore in a coffin, throwing confetti to the crowd as she emerged.

Now she continues her 12-title mega-selling “Vampire Chronicles” series with “Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis” (Knopf, $29, 480 pages; on sale Nov. 29).

Fans will know that Lestat de Lioncourt was given the “dark gift” of immortality in the late 1700s and has been a recurring central character throughout the “Chronicles.”

The phenomenon began in 1976 with the novel “Interview With the Vampire,” based on Rice’s short story. The 1994 film version starred Tom Cruise as Lestat. The second entry in the series was “The Vampire Lestat,” which became a short-lived Broadway musical in 2006, composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

In the new “Realms of Atlantis,” Lestat becomes entwined with a powerful spirit that reveals to him “the hypnotic tale of a great sea power of ancient times; a mysterious heaven on earth situated on a boundless continent that thrived and ruled in the Atlantic Ocean.” What does that have to do with vampires? Follow the trail of blood at ...

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▪ Full-time collaborations among writers aren’t a common model in fiction, but Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are the exception that prove the rule. Together they’ve published more than 30 thrillers, including 16 in the superb Aloysius Pendergast series. In “The Obsidian Chamber,” the eccentric detective must rescue his ward (and possible love interest), Constance Greene, from the clutches of his criminally insane brother, Diogenes (Grand Central, $28, 416 pages). Pendergast is one of the most intriguing figures in the genre, a wealthy iconoclast and FBI “special agent” (in name and badge only). Call him a charming though acerbic cross between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, though he doesn’t play the violin or chase women.

▪ Alan Turing, you’ll recall, was the “father of computer science” and the World War II hero who cracked the Nazi Enigma code and saved an estimated 14 million lives. The 2014 movie “The Imitation Game” serves as the biography of his tortured life. Now, from France, comes the hardback graphic novel, “The Case of Alan Turing” by Eric Liberge and Arnaud Delalande (Arsenal Pulp Press, $24, 112 pages), with a detailed chapter that puts cryptography into historical context.

▪ The Smithsonian Institution assembled a group of scholars and curators led by its undersecretary for art, history and culture, Richard Kurin, and gave them a major task. The result is “The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects,” a fascinating and informative examination of our country’s cultural landscape (Penguin, $35, 784 pages). The first object is a collection of the 500 million-year-old Burgess Shale fossils, the last is the Giant Magellan Telescope, under construction. In between is a worthwhile journey.

▪ On the subject of histories defined by objects, this column recently mentioned the new “A History of Sacramento City College in 100 Objects” (cover art by Gregory Kondos) by William Doonan, chairman of the SCC department of anthropology. As a veteran of hundreds of archaeological digs, Doonan spent many summers aboard cruise ships hosting “infotainment” presentations to passengers about the archaeological and cultural riches of their upcoming ports of call. That led to the entertaining and insightful four-book mystery series “Henry Grave” whose main character is an 84-year-old investigator for the Association of Cruising Vessel Operators.

“Henry was an archaeologist in his younger days, and archaeology is (largely) detective work,” Doonan said. “He’s also very good at reading people’s characters and he pays a lot of attention to details.”

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe