Comparisons and superlatives be damned; there simply isn't a more talented writer of American fiction today than the hip, irreverent, and ever-so-clever Charlie Huston. This guy could write the recipe for a tuna casserole and make it a page-turner.
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.