Half the Blood of Brooklyn (Joe Pitt Novel) by Charlie Huston
|Half the Blood of Brooklyn (Joe Pitt Novel) by Charlie Huston|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This third book out of five features gore, vampires and enough death and disease to satisfy the followers of the series, but not quite enough for those new to the Joe Pitt novels.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 256||Date: February 2008|
The scratchy maps at the start of the book show how the world of Brooklyn and Manhattan has been separated into gang territories – gangs of Vampyres, the undead forced that way through some form of viral contagion. The Society, that Joe Pitt works for as a gopher, hard man and possibly just mule, able to be played like a puppet on a string, that have their world centred on Greenwich, are rebuffing an approach from the Docks, over the Brooklyn Bridge. This is easily done, with a few quick axe slashes, but no-one, not Pitt, not the moll of the gang, Lydia, and not even the head honcho, Terry, can predict just how volatile the whole of New York is becoming.
All this remains in the underground, in the dark for obvious reasons, and in a way that is struggling to keep the whole Vyrus secret from the living. Bridging the gap between the living and the dead, literally, is Joe's gal Evie – dying horribly and with much descriptive vigour, of HIV and AIDS. Add a splattered and dismembered bloodbank owner, errands that can only end with bloodshed, and mystical cultish vampyres (as if the regular ones aren't enough) one has quite a vivid and potentially rollicking mix.
And I'm sure I would have rollicked more, if I had started the series at the beginning and not its mid-point (the post-prandial interview has it that the series will be five books long). There is enough here to make the book worth considering for splatter and gore fans – enough blood and guts, vengeful missions and stone cold-hearted killers peopling the streets of New York and below.
Stylistically the book's main feature is the narrative provided by Joe, in a very droll noir way. Completely unfazed by so much (whether his own innards, which he can mostly expect to heal due to his vampiric nature), the finding of another horrid corpse, or another faultless descent into horrible gang violence, his story starts off a little awkwardly – who is saying what to whom, and why must we live with hyphens at the start of dialogue and not speech marks? – but the writing quickly gets us past that hurdle. From then on the short, snappy paragraphs, sardonic lines and descriptive first person action scenes are perfectly coherent and easy to absorb.
I'm not completely sure the narrative as a whole is absorbable, however. The author thanks Stoker and Chandler, and that's fine and understandable, it's when the Old Testament comes along that I felt the story veering away from where I felt it should be going. The abrupt conclusion Joe makes about one of the story threads seems unfounded at the very end, and I didn't think the religious elements were at ease with the gore and medical horror so much of the rest of the story concerned, however understandable they might have been given the genre.
Fans of the series (I assume there are some…) will certainly need to know what goes on in these pages, especially with the Evie story progressing as it does, and that's not before several other people are introduced to the series – whether to be alive, dead or undead at the end I'll let you find out. For people like me who hadn't heard of Charlie Huston before, there is nothing to make one dislike the series on this evidence, but the book cannot be recommended in isolation – it is not self-contained enough to generate an accurate opinion. I'd guess that for those with the stomach for the gore, the titles are all worth investigating, being as they are a mostly successful gothic splatterpunk noir mix.
I would still like to thank Orbit for sending a copy to the Bookbag to sample.
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