Sunday, 30 December 2007

‘Half the Blood of Brooklyn’ – Charlie Huston (Del Rey Books)

Like Pat, I’ve read a few books recently that were below par and I decided that I wanted to finish off the year on a high with something that I knew I’d enjoy. I wasn’t up for a ‘re-read’ though so I was a happy chap when Charlie Huston’s latest ‘Joe Pitt’ novel came through the door just after Christmas Day. The ‘Joe Pitt’ books have been a real find for me this year so what better way to round the year off?
The series is set in a Manhattan divided into areas owned by various Vampyre clans. There’s only so much room (and blood) to go round though so when Vampyres from the outer boroughs start arriving on the island there’s a big problem straight away. Enter Joe Pitt, former Vampyre private investigator and now security chief for the Society. A trip into Brooklyn, to meet up with a clan of freak show Vampyres, wouldn’t be such a big deal for Joe if the cause of the troubles weren’t waiting outside the carnival tent in an ambush. Even this kind of development is all in a night’s work for Joe but he has other troubles to take care of. Evie, his girlfriend, is seriously ill and this is forcing him to consider actions that he never wanted to take. Not only this but the clan structure in Manhattan is starting to crumble. It’s going to be another busy night for Joe…
Having read all of that you’d be excused for thinking that ‘Half the Blood of Brooklyn’ is one of those monster reads that weigh you down. Think again, this baby is a mere two hundred and twenty three pages long. Make that two hundred and twenty three pages of gangster Vampyres being very cool (in a New York way) while double crossing and kicking the crap out of each other. No-one can be trusted, even if you known them all your life, and it’s this uncertainty that kept me reading just to see how things panned out in the end. As well as this, the dilemma that Joe faces regarding Evie makes for compelling reading. He could cure her but then she would be a Vampyre too, does he even have the right to do this? This sub-plot does reach a conclusion of sorts but it was definitely anything that I’d seen coming, I really felt for Joe when he saw what went down in the Enclave warehouse…
When I reviewed ‘No Dominion’ (Book Two); I said that Huston didn’t really deliver anything new, not that he needed to… ‘Half the Blood of Brooklyn’ sees Huston shake everything up and take things to a new level, there’s a real sense of progression to the overall story and the final paragraphs suggest that the next instalment could be apocalyptic to say the least… One cautionary note though would be that even though Huston does fill in the gaps you'll get more out of this book if you've already read the first two.
Some people have mentioned excessive swearing in these books. Apart from one exception I never really noticed this as an issue, all part of the atmosphere as far as I was concerned.
Having finished ‘Half the Blood of Brooklyn’ all I can say is that (in my opinion) Charlie Huston has done it again and written a book that kept me hooked right from the opening line. It’s a real close call between Huston and Mike Carey as to who’s writing the best supernatural fiction right now.
I couldn’t fault this book but I have to say that I am a pretty big fan ;o) I will now start waiting for the next instalment…

Ten out of Ten

PS Larry beat me to it with his review, if you fancy another viewpoint then have a click Here

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