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January 28, 2017

Book Review || Already Dead by Charlie Huston

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This is the modern vampire novel you're looking for. Charlie Huston's 'Already Dead', the first Joe Pitt Novel, is gritty and dirty and has an antihero par excellence.

We are quickly thrown into Manhattan's world of vampire clans, none of which Pitt is allied with. Rather, he is the private investigator/muscle of choice for various clans, The Coalition and The Society in particular, although he is known in other circles as well.

Pitt is a swearing, bullying, smoking, drinking muscle-for-hire getting rid of a couple of zombies when we first meet him, and it takes a while for the character to endear himself to you. He is exactly like those protagonists in the best horror stories - think James Herbert - who are really unlikeable and simply get under your skin. It is also so much unlike all the supernatural fantasy to come out of publishing houses today, all eager to become the next 'Twilight', that it appears to be unique. It really is more of a crime thriller than supernatural fiction, and it just happens to have a basis in vampire lore. However, once the narrative gets underway and we become embroiled in the apparently unrelated mysteries of a zombie germ carrier and a missing teen, it is really difficult to put the novel down at all.

Pitt becomes a super-complex character with a chequered past as both a human and as a vampire, as can be seen through his familiarity with all of the clans and with dark underbelly of the city. I loved that he could walk around among the humans and no one could tell what he was. I loved the effort he had to take to go out during the day. I loved that he made mistake after mistake. I loved the descriptions of the different hangers-on of vampires: the 'Minas', the 'Renfields' and so on, terms lovingly inserted into the narrative to not only please fans of the vampire genre but also to honour the rich history of the vampire story, 'Dracula' obviously being the stand-out icon. I also thought the 'Pitt' reference was cute (if you don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at the film version of Anne Rice's 'Interview with the Vampire').

Many of the characters are deliciously detailed through Pitt's eyes, from Mr Predo and Leprosy and his monstrous dog to the Enclave's Daniel, a vampire who barely feeds in the hopes that he will die, or become some invincible messiah.

The mystery is as twisted and grisly as such a novel deserves and your only regret will be coming to the end of the novel. I am eager to read the next novel in the series, if I can find it.

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