My Dead Body (Joe Pitt Casebook) by Charlie Huston

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My Dead Body (Joe Pitt Casebook) by Charlie Huston

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Category: Horror
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The concluding volume in this noirish gorefest, from the self-styled pulp writer.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: December 2009
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841496825

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Joe Pitt's New York is one riddled with Vampyres, infected by a Vyrus that makes them drink blood and die in the sun. It is also a wasteland of lawless tribes of Vampyres, gang warfare carving up Manhattan into territories, each with their own leaders, specialist workers, fighters, animosities. As we start book five, Joe's New York is actually a subterranean one, as he hides from everyone in the sewers and tunnels, until the enterprise of a top dog character flushes him out, and tells Pitt to find his daughter - a messianic poster girl for the future of the city.

This volume continues the mixture of the series, that of hardboiled noir narration, gory violent action from the darkest edges of vampiric urban fantasy, and a strong narrative. A lot here seems to look back on older books, especially a holocaust-style element to the mythology, but it doesn't matter too much if we haven't met the other characters. Pitt so easily makes enemies that we tend to see a kind of stoic oh, s***, not you again before he's back in the cut and thrust.

I think Huston was smiling when he made the sought-after girl pregnant by a Vampyre, as that is the logical end to those teen vamp romances flooding the markets. But the audiences of those will have to be much more mature to cope with these books - the speechmark-free style, the noir narration and the horror elements - with an undead hero and a city of grudges there is inevitably a lot of claret. Pitt harks on about his broken ribs here several times - as, I suppose, you would.

That's not to suggest there is any real link betwixt this and other urban fantasies, for Huston goes further into the darkest underbelly of his city than anyone else in the genre. He writes very well, to my mind, slowing down and spacing out his drama to cover this single Pitt mission and a lot of the bigger arc, in a way that will certainly please returning fans. And bar a couple of hiccups, this does serve as a self-contained story (albeit one that appears to spoil a lot of book four.

And, as expected, this is the last volume in this cycle. It's surprising how this does not come across as obvious while reading - I had to check online for any late news regarding Huston's future plans. There is no grandstanding, no obvious drive to conclude things any particular way - and yet by the end, a very appropriate - if slightly wispy and impressionistic - wrapping up of things has been given us.

There's nothing in this to make me rush to read the volumes I haven't met before, and I don't think people would be so enamoured after this they felt the need to revisit earlier volumes immediately, but this has been a distinctive and distinguished cycle of dramatic horror/urban fantasy. As a result I think people who fell in tune with the style, rhythms and considerations of Huston would get a lot out of exploring this dark underworld.

I must thank the publishers for our review copy.

We at the Bookbag first encountered this series with book three, Half the Blood of Brooklyn.

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