Half the Blood of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston
So far Joe Pitt has had some pretty wild adventures and along the way he’s proven time and again to be one tough SOB. Still, even a tough SOB has a breaking point and in Half the Blood of Brooklyn we get to learn first-hand just what that breaking-point is. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Starting back at the beginning, another year has gone by and during that time Joe has firmly resumed his role as enforcer for Terry Bird and the Society. Life should be good right!? I mean, Joe’s got a steady gig now, which means Clan protection, not having to hunt for his own blood, and an income that he can use to pay for his girlfriend’s treatments. Ah, but this is Joe Pitt we’re talking about here, professional shit-magnet. So trouble’s just a stone’s throw away.
First, the Clans discover that the world’s a much larger place than their little island of Manhattan when Vampyres start crossing the bridge from Brooklyn causing all sorts of political turmoil. Then, an apparent Van Helsing — nickname for a “righteous hunter of the undead” — shows up committing a murder that brings Coalition into the picture. Also back on the scene is the soon-to-be-filthy-rich Horde Bio Tech Incorporated heiress Amanda Horde, her transsexual lover/protector Sela, and their noble idea of developing a cure for the Vyrus.
Which brings us to the most important matter in the book, at least to Joe. You see Evie, Joe’s HIV-positive girlfriend, is failing and the only way to save her is by using the Vyrus. Here’s the dilemma though — not only is it morally wrong to essentially trap Evie in a life that is as vicious and bleak as the one Joe lives, but it’s illegal under penalty of death and not everyone can accept the Vyrus in the first place, and those who reject it, well, they die… horribly. Fortunately for Joe, there’s one Vampyre who can actually tell if a straight will be able to accept the Vyrus or not — Daniel, the leader of the Enclave. Unfortunately, time’s running out for Daniel and before Joe can even ask the question to the answer he so desperately seeks, he’s sent on a mission into the heart of Brooklyn where things really get out of hand, all leading to an explosive finale where no one, not the Brooklyn vampyres, not the Society, not the Enclave, not friends nor straights — no one will stand in Joe’s way as he tries to save the girl he loves… even if it means war…
Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt Casebooks is one of those rare series that just keeps getting better and better, and Half the Blood of Brooklyn was easily the best so far. I mean, if you think about it, the first two books are mainly establishing what kind of a Vampyre Joe is and his various relationships, laying down the groundwork for the Clans’ political structure, deciphering their opposing philosophies, and just basically realizing Charlie Huston’s unique vampyre mythology. Sure, all of that was usually rooted in some great storytelling, but essentially, it was a lot of worldbuilding.
Half the Blood of Brooklyn is the start of the payoff. The world’s basically been established, so characters are evolving, conflicts are coming to a head, and Joe’s finally making a stand for something he truly believes in… and it’s sadistically magnificent.
Plus, how crazy is Charlie Huston’s imagination? Already he’s doing stuff with the vampire mythos that hasn’t been seen before, and then he goes and introduces the Freaks — a group of Vampyres that put their abilities on display as a circus act — and a clan of Jewish Vampyres who believe themselves descended from the lost Tribe of Gibeah! Bloody brilliant!
A couple of notes though. First, I thought readers would have no problem following what was happening in No Dominion even if they hadn’t read the first JOE PITT novel. That’s not the case here. I highly recommend that you read both Already Dead and No Dominion before starting this one, especially since a lot of characters/subplots — Amanda Horde, The Count, Lydia, Daniel, Evie — from those books play such an important role in Half the Blood of Brooklyn.
And secondly, prepare yourself for a cliffhanger. While the first two books were more or less self-contained stories, Half the Blood of Brooklyn is more of a set-up novel, and thus, leaves you dangling. So yeah, next December can’t come fast enough, but fortunately Half the Blood of Brooklyn Was so mind-blowingly good, I’m still trying to catch my breath!
Joe Pitt Casebooks — (2005-2009) Publisher: Those stories you hear? The ones about things that only come out at night? Things that feed on blood, feed on us? Got news for you: they’re true. Only it’s not like the movies or old man Stoker’s storybook. It’s worse. Especially if you happen to be one of them. Just ask Joe Pitt. There’s a shambler on the loose. Some fool who got himself infected with a flesh-eating bacteria is lurching around, trying to munch on folks’ brains. Joe hates shamblers, but he’s still the one who has to deal with them. That’s just the kind of life he has. Except afterlife might be better word. From the Battery to the Bronx, and from river to river, Manhattan is crawling with Vampyres. Joe is one of them, and he’s not happy about it. Yeah, he gets to be stronger and faster than you, and he’s tough as nails and hard to kill. But spending his nights trying to score a pint of blood to feed the Vyrus that’s eating at him isn’t his idea of a good time. And Joe doesn’t make it any easier on himself. Going his own way, refusing to ally with the Clans that run the undead underside of Manhattan — it ain’t easy. It’s worse once he gets mixed up with the Coalition — the city’s most powerful Clan — and finds himself searching for a poor little rich girl who’s gone missing in Alphabet City. Now the Coalition and the girl’s high-society parents are breathing down his neck, anarchist Vampyres are pushing him around, and a crazy Vampyre cult is stalking him. No time to complain, though. Got to find that girl and kill that shambler before the whip comes down… and before the sun comes up.