I don't like him.
I don't like the way he smells. I don't like the way he looks. I don't like his shoes. If I stuck a blade in him and drank the blood that shot out of the open wound, I wouldn't like the way he tastes.
But Terry told me to be cool.
So I don't kill the guy.
That was my introduction to Charlie Huston's third Joe Pitt novel, Half the Blood of Brooklyn. Told in short, staccato bursts of dialogue and thought reminiscent of the hard-boiled detective novels of Raymond Chandler, this slender, 223 page novel is bursting with action, but with an extra layer of introspection that adds a depth of meaning to what otherwise would be a simple quest-plot novel of achieve mission X at all costs. I have not read Huston's other novels, but based on my experiences, it is not too terribly difficult to pick out the backstory.
Joe, like most of the other characters in the novel, has been infected by a "vyrus" that has turned them into "vampyres" (like the traditional model, just with an edgy "y" spelling). Living in a dark, violent New York City divided into territorial clans, he is a sort of a combination of a hit man and a private eye. Due to circumstances such as an ever-shortening supply of blood and his girlfriend (human) suffering through the terminal stages of AIDS, Joe has joined forces with the Society Clan. As the scene quoted above indicates, he doesn't care much for the person he has to work with, but dammit, he's in need of work and all the usual gruff, "manly" stuff that follows.
Huston does a good job in outlining the initial mission, but he then embellishes it with certain information about the Vampyres that makes for a compelling read. However, I have to admit that I found the use of "fuck" to be close to overdone, even taking into account the character and his supposed streetwise background. There were times that I was jarred from considering the action at hand by such repetitive talk and while it doesn't ruin the story for me, it just made me aware all the more of the inherent limitations of using such characters as protagonists.
Although these type of novels are not my normal reading fare, I believe I can safely say that those who are fans of Huston's prior work will love this continuation of the Joe Pitt character. Those who are new to his work, such as I am, will likely find it intriguing at times, but may be put off by the staccato feel of the dialogue. But if you love the hardboiled detective/hit man type of novel, then I would suggest that you at least consider reading Half the Blood of Brooklyn.
Publication Date: December 26, 2007 (US), tradeback.
Publisher: Del Rey