Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book review: My Dead Body: a novel by Charlie Huston

And so, in My Dead Body, thus endeth the Joe Pitt casebooks.  It's bittersweet because I liked this series so much, but I think Charlie Huston was smart to end with a bang, rather than letting the stories dwindle away.  Pluswhich, if there were any more books, poor ol' Joe would have been whittled away to nothing: his enemies, many of them former allies, liked to cut body parts off of him and while the Vampyre Vyrus gives its host extraordinary healing powers, it can't regrow fingers or toes or eyeballs.

The end of the fourth book, Every Last Drop, found Joe in a bit of a predicament.  While on assignment to infiltrate a new Clan whose founding principal is finding a cure for the Vyrus, Joe uncovered a horrific secret.  And, because he is who he is - street smart but not sophisticated, tough, nasty, in it for himself but with uncontrollable urges to (a) make trouble for everyone else and (b) ultimately do the right thing (sometimes), he tells the secret.  Not just to the heads of the powerful Coalition and Society clans, but also to rival factions and butch lesbian activist Vampyres and his own beloved Evie.  And now everyone is fighting mad.

In the middle of this impending war is a young pregnant girl.  She's missing and her father wants Joe to find her.  What's special about this girl is that the father of her unborn child is a Vampyre - which isn't supposed to happen.  This child is being hailed as some sort of miracle, adding fanatical fuel to the Vampyre fire.  The thing is, all Joe wants to do is get back to his girl, Evie, embroiled in a power struggle of her own for control of the cult Enclave clan, before all of NYC goes up in flames.

My Dead Body was a much more satisfying volume than the penultimate one.  Huston ties up all the loose ends, bringing back characters from all four of the previous books for us to say hello to - and, for many, goodbye.  There's the usual colorful characters and frenetic and brutal violence and the fantastic dialogue - I'm not sure I've ever read a book where the spare but telling dialogue paints such a vivid picture of the characters speaking.  This series is not for everyone for sure (see above re: violence plus all the swearing plus, you know, Vampyres), but it certainly was for me and I had a blast (for the most part) reading it.

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