Half the Blood of Brooklyn: A Novel Paperback – Dec 26 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Huston's third Joe Pitt vampire novel (after Already Dead and No Dominion) takes his Manhattan-based hard-boiled hero on a dangerous trip into the undead communities across the bridge in Brooklyn. The various vampire clans in New York are on the brink of conflict. Leadership has fallen apart, and to make things worse, a Van Helsing is running amok and has recently murdered a longtime supplier of contraband blood. Worst of all, Pitt's AIDS-stricken girlfriend, Evie, is in the hospital failing fast. Once again, he's faced with an almost classical dilemma: infecting her with the vampire virus will destroy the illness that's killing her, but she'll be a vampire. Sent to Brooklyn to meet with a rogue clan of carnival freak vampires, Pitt ends up battling a group of radical Jewish bloodsuckers called the lost tribe of Gibeah. As always, Huston's formidable writing chops are on full display: his action scenes are unparalleled in crime fiction and his dialogue is so hip and dead-on that Elmore Leonard should be getting nervous. (Dec.)
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Huston's third Joe Pitt vampire novel (after Already Dead and No Dominion) takes his Manhattan-based hard-boiled hero on a dangerous trip into the undead communities across the bridge in Brooklyn. The various vampire clans in New York are on the brink of conflict. Leadership has fallen apart, and to make things worse, a "Van Helsing" is running amok and has recently murdered a longtime supplier of contraband blood. Worst of all, Pitt's AIDS-stricken girlfriend, Evie, is in the hospital failing fast. Once again, he's faced with an almost classical dilemma: infecting her with the vampire virus will destroy the illness that's killing her, but she'll be a vampire. Sent to Brooklyn to meet with a rogue clan of carnival freak vampires, Pitt ends up battling a group of radical Jewish bloodsuckers called the lost tribe of Gibeah. As always, Huston's formidable writing chops are on full display: his action scenes are unparalleled in crime fiction and his dialogue is so hip and dead-on that Elmore Leonard should be getting nervous. Publishers Weekly (starred review) The further, even gorier adventures of Joe Pitt, Vampyre extraordinaire (No Dominion, 2006, etc.). Unbeknownst to most, there are 4,000 undead sucking blood in Manhattan. Among them, the talented Joe Pitt has always been a sort of paradigm of Vampyre ind KIRKUS REVIEWS --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
That and some of the suspense seemed put-on for the sake of the story: Joe didn't have to go through what he did go through, all he had to do is speak up and much of it wouldn't have happened. But then there'd be no story, huh...
Of course, it was still good, just not as thrilling as I had hoped.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The world surrounding Joe Pitt is a new world indeed. These are stories of an urban horror noir, if you will. Huston has created a civilization in which surviving vampires (infected by the "Vyrus") have congregated in a loose series of "clans" (almost gang- like) throughout Manhatten Island...each with its own governing structure and its own borders and spheres of influence and operation. There are generic "rules" that exist among all vampires such as very limited feeding on uninfected humans etc. but the rest of the governmental and societal structure of each community or clan is pretty much left to local determination.
This is where Huston shines as his characters are drawn into situations and events that sometimes make you forget the blood dependence of the characters due to the philosophical, psychological and sociological conflicts occurring between individual characters as well as between and amongst the feuding communities. There are underlying currents of loyalty, betrayal, power struggles, compassion, personal ambition etc. that play out in the back story in each Joe Pitt novel. Huston makes effective use of the philosophical clashes in individual and community value systems.
In this latest effort, Joe Pitt has abandoned his rogue status to become chief of security for The Society and his long time friend, Terry Bird...mainly to find stability while caring for his dying girlfriend, Evie. Vampires from surrounding areas, mainly Brooklyn, are sneaking into Manhatten and threatening the balance of order on the Island. Other outlying clans are seeking to merge with the larger Manhatten Clans such as the Society and The Coalition. Joe is sent to Brooklyn with Society council leader Lydia to check out the Freak Clan. They are quickly caught up in ongoing violence as the force that is driving the smaller clans out of Brooklyn becomes known and Joe and Lydia must fight their way back home.
Back home, Joe is faced with political decisions between powerful clan leaders, friends become enemies, other friends die, and he must make an agonizing decision about whether to "save" Evie or not. By book's end, war is brewing, Joe is seeking revenge, leaders and sides have changed, and Joe is once again on his own. One warning to the new reader, these books are getting more difficult to join in midstream without the background and characters of previous novels. I urge the interested reader to start from the beginning of the series rather than trying to figure things out using "Half the Blood of Brooklyn" as a stand- alone.
The Joe Pitt series has always had a surfeit of inventiveness and irony, laid on top of a fast moving, stream of consciousness style. However, much like playing a game of Go, the working space on his playing board was starting to get a bit crowded. Dominant characters had been established in the first two books and threatened to turn future plots into set-piece affairs.
Half the Blood of Brooklyn removes that danger early in the book and creates wide open room for Pitt to roam in as we exit the book. If for any reason you were starting to get tired of where Huston was going here, don't worry. He's got some very exciting territory ahead of him.
Most of the ingredients are there in Half the Blood in Brooklyn. It has the same lean edgy prose of earlier novels and Joe is still as uncompromisingly brutal as before. But somehow the novel didn't quite work for me. It opens strong and I was hooked in the beginning, thinking I was in for another wild ride but soon afterwards things started to fall flat. First off, it has that problem that so many series novels have, which is that the author tries to weave as many previous characters into the novel as possible. So Joe spends a good part of the first part of the novel hooking up with the runaway girl from the first novel and her she-male bodyguard, his AIDs afflicted girlfriend, the dude who leads a strange sect called the Enclave, the strung-out Count, the sinister head of security for the powerful Coalition clan and so on. These characters are all weaved into the plot but in a way that felt artificial to me, as if the author felt obligated to find a way to tie these characters into the story somehow.
The plot in Half the Blood in Brooklyn involves a territorial war across the river that is resulting in the smaller Brooklyn clans reaching out to form alliances with the Manhattan clans. The source of all the trouble is a radical Orthodox Jewish Clan, the Gibeah. Joe ends up on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge with Lydia to meet with a small clan called The Freaks. The Freaks are a repugnant lot and I found their antics made for some unpleasant reading. I'm not completely sure why. I like violence and gore in the right context (Joe bites an old lady's eye out in No Dominion and I was good with that) but for whatever reason the grotesque burlesque freak show and general nature of the Freaks didn't appeal to me at all.
Before you can say Vampyre Freak Show, Joe finds himself waging a one-man war against the Gibeah, the Jewish clan waging war against the other Brooklyn clans. There is much killing and pontificating before the final showdown that will leave the patriarch of the Gibeah literally in pieces, but I didn't think the introduction of this Clan added much to the series either. I found their religious rhetoric tiresome and the conflict with the group felt rushed and frenetic and strangely unsatisfying.
On a more positive note, some of the developments at the end of the novel were intriguing and despite any disappointment I might have with this novel, I am still looking forward to reading the next one. Half the Blood in Brooklyn is the weakest entry in the series so far, but it's still pretty good. I look forward to the fourth installment and hope that the quality returns to previous levels. Half the Blood in Brooklyn is not a good place to start for those new to the series. I recommend starting at the beginning. Inevitably, in reading a series, some novels are better than others. I hope that this is as low as this series gets, and that the next novel is of similar caliber to No Dominion.
Always one to shun convention and propriety, Huston rips another scorcher free of distracting quotation marks or chapters. Back is vampyre leg-breaker Joe Pitt in this third installment of Huston's nightmare fantasy of the undead of Manhattan, another literary feast of enough blood and gore to prove the title an understatement. If you're not familiar with Huston's brilliantly twisted twist on tired and familiar vampire lore, welcome to present day New York, where Joe Pitt and his ilk are the victims of an AIDS-like "vyrus", condemning it's hosts to near-eternal life out-of-the sun and with an insatiable demand for human blood. Huston's vampires, who walk undetected among us, have divided into clans along traditional societal lines, each with their own approach and philosophies to their affliction. Forget capes and bats and castles on crags: "Half the Blood of Brooklyn" and its prequels are 100% urban, urbane, and contemporary, more Sam Spade than Count Dracula, and so-nearly believable that you'll often forget the, um, "diet" of Pitt and his buddies.
Out hero and former rogue hit man Pitt has joined up with his old buddy, Terry Bird, hippie leader of the progressive "Society" clan of lower Manhattan. But there's trouble in the boroughs, as someone or something is driving the renegade clans across the bridges onto the island, threatening to drain an already dwindling supply of blood. And when the "Candy Man" winds up carved into a dozen pieces in the basement of his Greenwich Village shop, Terry sends Pitt, distracted by his "civilian" girlfriend's losing battle with cancer, to Coney Island as part of an elaborate alliance scheme. There he encounters rival gangs bizarre by even Houston's whacked standards - a "Middle Earth meets "Rings-of-Hell" concoction that Tolkien or Dante would have killed to conjure.
Huston's fiction can stand in a league of its own solely on this fresh and creative approach to an old storyline. But what sets Huston so far above the pack of clones and wannabes is the easy brilliance with which he skewers and parodies, in one fell swoop, popular crime drama, horror, political correctness, and in this outing, even Orthodox Jews! Yet his attacks are subtle and playful, the dark humor and delicious cynicism shining through the blood, guts, gore, grit, and filth that fits so neatly in Huston's unique brand of prose.
If you haven't discovered Charlie Huston or Joe Pitt yet (or for that matter, Hank Thompson of the "Caught Stealing", "Six Bad Things", and "A Dangerous Man" trilogy), don't succumb to the "I don't read vampire crap" trap, and yourself a favor: Huston is the real deal - you've got to give him a try.
Joe Pitt used to be a PI--his own boss--but times change and a sick friend with AIDS pushes him into becoming head of security of the renegade Society Clan. It gives him plenty of money and a steady supply of blood demanded by the Vyrus. Unfortunately, he has to cross the river into Brooklyn to find out why the natives are encroaching on the Society's turf. Plenty of danger.
The novel isn't for everyone. The plot, language and horror is far out. I, for one, was repelled by the book. If you have a taste for the macabre--and blood--maybe you won't be. One character sums up the novel in a few words: "Most people are f-ing prudes. They don't get anything. They think if something's different, that means it's like it's abnormal. Like there's such a thing as normal."