The Bloody Red Baron is the second novel in the Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman, set in an Alternate History where Dracula's successful invasion of England led to vampires coming out of the shadows.
In this novel, it's 1918 and World War I is in full swing. Dracula, having been driven out of England, is allied with the Central Powers, but there are vampires fighting on both sides of the conflict (and others hanging around on the sidelines taking whatever advantage they can).
This novel contains examples of:
- Ace Pilot: Biggles, Captain Midnight and The Shadow go up against the Red Baron, Hans von Hammer and Airboy's ally the Heap.
- Allohistorical Allusion:
- Someone speculates that if it weren't for all these vampires, maybe World War I wouldn't have happened.
- Dracula has a Hungarian body double/decoy named Bela.
- Badass Crew: The Red Baron leads a squad of German fliers who are all vampires and aces, much like the real life Jagdgeschwader 1 the Baron led. Except not only are they vampires (making them excellent night pilots) to match up to the Allies' slightly better squad of aces (which includes Expies of The Shadow, Biggles, and Captain Midnight, along with real life British ace Albert Ball) the squad is modified by science and elder vampire blood into giant bat fliers wearing machine-gun rigs.
- Body Double: Dracula deploys a number of decoy body doubles during the climactic battle. It backfires once the decoys start being killed, because the news that "Dracula's dead" travels faster than the news that there are decoys in play, and his troops are demoralized by their leader's apparent death (and then also bewildered by the arrival of multiple conflicting accounts of his death).
- Creative Sterility: Edgar Allan Poe mentions that he has not written a word of fiction since he became a vampire.
- Herr Doktor: Includes cameos by a number of German Mad Scientists from film and literature, including Professor ten Brinken from the 1911 German novel Alraune and Dr. Caligari from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
- Historical-Domain Character: Including cameos by Winston Churchill and Mata Hari, among others.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Hanns Heinz Ewers appears as a murderous and arrogant man whose plans to slaughter an "inferior" woman are only foiled by the undead Edgar Allan Poe. The real Ewers was attracted to the nationalist and militarist aspects of National Socialism, but split with the Nazis over their antisemitism.
- In Spite of a Nail: A few decades after Dracula conquered England and the vampires came out of the shadows, history is back on course to the extent that World War I is happening in roughly the same way (with a Lampshade Hanging that many believe it wouldn't have happened without the vampire influence).
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The series includes a lot of characters who go unnamed but have familiar descriptions.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: A combination of characters from both Edwardian fiction in general as well as vampire characters.
- Never Found the Body: Captain Allard commits a heroic sacrifice at the end to take down Dracula's war blimp the Attila. It is widely assumed he was incinerated in the blast or killed in the crash... but it is strongly hinted in Dracula Cha-Cha-Cha that he did indeed somehow survive, and went on to become The Shadow.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires come from a number of various "Bloodlines", but are considered biological entities with "just a touch" of magic (they don't cast reflections, for example). Some may be able to transform, while others have corpse-like features, and others suffer from blood frenzy. Religious symbols and even garlic only affect those vampires who believe they can. Sunlight only hurts younger undead, and silver only serves to counter their regeneration abilities; any sufficient organ damage (like, say, a stake though the heart) can kill them for good. This novel has a particular focus on bloodlines, as the Germans are experimenting with it to create the ultimate vampire: capable of becoming giant man-bats. It's also revealed that some vampires can heal from moonlight, while some become even stronger from it.
- Plot Armor: Even though he's only a minor character in this, Biggles appears to have brought his plot armor with him, surviving the midair destruction of his crate at million-to-one odds, because that's the kind of thing Biggles does.
- Put on a Bus: Genevieve doesn't appear in The Bloody Red Baron, with Newman choosing to give the limelight to some younger and less powerful characters.
- Shed the Family Name: The undead Edgar Allan Poe dubs himself simply "Edgar Poe", because the middle name is tied to his hated foster father.
- Shout-Out: Any piece of seemingly unnecessary exposition, any background character who gets more than a sentence of description? A Shout-Out to something.
- Take That!: Newman isn't shy about giving unflattering portrayals to real-life personages he doesn't care for. Hanns Heinz Ewers and Field Marshal Douglas Haig are seen in a particularly bad light.
- Transhuman: By drinking Albert Ball's blood without giving up any of his own blood in return, Winthrop effectively becomes a human with vampiric abilities rather than actually turning into a vampire. It's also suggested that Beauregard is aging much slower than he should be due to picking up a little of Genevieve's blood during the time they were intimate decades earlier.
- The Unmasqued World: After Dracula took over England, all the vampires come out of hiding. By the time this novel starts, their existence is regarded as an ordinary fact of life.
- Vampire Variety Pack: The different bloodlines each features a different subset of vampire characteristics; only some bloodlines are able to transform into other shapes, for instance.
- Villainous Breakdown: Caleb Croft has one upon realizing Dracula has tricked the allied forces with body doubles of himself. Going so far as to try to strangle Charles, and has to be restrained.
- Weird Historical War: World War I with vampires.