Salem’s Lot combines the psychological thriller and the classic horror genres, making references to Bram Stoker's Dracula at several points and sometimes replicating its storyline.
Ben Mears, a successful writer who grew up in the (fictional) town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine (known to locals as "Salem's Lot" or "The Lot"), has returned home following the death of his wife. Ben plans to write a book about the “Marsten House”, an abandoned mansion that gave him nightmares after a traumatic (and possibly supernatural) childhood experience. Once in town, he meets local high school teacher Matt Burke and strikes up a romantic relationship with Susan Norton, a young college graduate.
Mears discovers that the Marsten house has been bought by Mr. Straker and Mr. Barlow, a pair of businessmen who are also new to the town, although only Straker has been seen. Their arrival coincides with the disappearance of a young boy, Ralphie Glick, and the suspicious death of his brother Danny. The town is slowly taken over by vampires, while Ben, Matt, Susan, and a few other residents of the Lot try to prevent this. In the end, Ben and young Mark Petrie succeed in neutralizing Straker and destroying the master vampire Barlow, but, lucky to escape with their lives, are forced to leave the town to the newly-created vampires.
Although the story's overall structure remains similar, several lines have been consolidated and/or simplified, in keeping with the much-shortened radio format (seven 30-minute broadcasts).