Posted by: Matt | August 13, 2007

Already Dead

Already DeadAlready Dead
Charlie Huston
2005

Reason for reading: The book received surprisingly good reviews, and it’s about vampires. That’s good enough for me.

Quote: “I take that second breath and sure enough, there it is underneath: the sweet, subtle tang of something not quite dead. Something freshly rotting.”

*******

There is an underworld in New York that most aren’t aware of. Clans of Vampyres that battle over turf, each claiming their own part of Manhattan Island. Joe Pitt is one of them, only he’s a loner. He takes odd jobs handed down from those who run the clans. And he’s got his hands full. A zombie is on the loose, a shambler, turning others into brain eating undead. But that’s not all, the daughter of a high society couple is missing. It’s up to Joe to take down the shambler and find the girl.

Joe Pitt is a tough guy, but he’s a small fish in a big pond, and he knows it. More often than not he’s on the wrong side of a hard fist. But that’s what this kind of book is about. It’s got that old noir feeling. And besides, Vampyres can take more than there fair share of abuse.

Most of the myths remain intact. Can’t go out in the sun, need blood to survive, superhuman strength. But it breaks some of the traditions as well. Garlic doesn’t hurt, but Joe hates the taste, and they can see their reflection in a mirror. Can’t speak for the old stake in the heart. Those sort of cliches are part of the package. But there’s fun in seeing how Huston uses them in the story and how he breaks from some of the others.

Already Dead is a strange and entertaining twist on crime fiction. This isn’t a book for the faint of heart. It has plenty of violence, plenty of blood and plenty of harsh language. Huston may not be brilliant in his prose but he knows what he’s doing. This is a quick read that always keeps you wanting more, and guessing at what’s coming next.

Rating: 3.5

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Responses

  1. I don’t understand the vampire appeal. Maybe you can explain it! I actively avoid vampire books, even when my book club read one, and not because I find them scary. Just boring, I guess. Though I do like the Preacher comic series, and that has a vampire. Have you read that?

  2. I’m going to go out on a limb here (especially on a book related site), but I think if you are looking for some of the highest quality vampire related material out there, you really should check out the video game Vampire: Bloodlines. I actually read this review thinking I might be interested in the story, but the plot synopsis pretty much sums up what was found in the game.
    In response to Dewey, I think a lot of the appeal of vampire mythology comes from the fact that vampires are essentially humans who can never die. They live through generation after generation, and they have to find a balance between their power over humanity vs. depending on humanity to actually keep them alive. I agree that the stories can get a bit boring (especially since Hollywood has really beat the genre to death) but when you find a good storyline it really changes everything. Most of the more modern stories have started to move away from the whole garlic, sun, holy water kind of vampire stories and like in Matt’s description of this novel, a lot of focus seems to be on the interaction between vampire clans.
    Like I said, if you have the chance, you really should check out that game because of how much care and atmosphere it adds to vampires. Oh, and I must say that vampire stories are never really supposed to be scary. Of course there is the whole blood and death aspect of the genre, but like in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles the main focus of these kinds of stories is to see how a human (an undead one) adapts to his surroundings. Does he become a monster killing at random, or does he become one of the sophisticated vampires that lives at the fringes of humanity.

  3. Interesting. It’s difficult to find a fresh or interesting take on the vampire myth at this point.

  4. Dewey – I have not read the Preacher series, I don’t think I’ve even heard of it. I don’t know if I can explain the appeal of vampires, at least not any better than Kevin. I agree with him that part of it is their immortality.

    Kevin – I’ll have to take a look at the game. I’ve heard of it but never played. I think this book is worth a read, especially for a vampire fan.

    Heather – It’s true. There is a vampire movie coming out soon that looks like it could be fun though, it’s called “30 Days of Night”. If you like vampire stories might want to look it up.

  5. This book sounds like a fun take on vampire myths. I like vampire fiction too but only spent a brief time with Anne Rice, enjoyed the Anita Blake series until it descended into bad porn land, and find that a lot of dime-a-dozen series are just bad imitations of Laurell K Hamilton, or Rice or Buffy.

  6. imani – I have thought about reading some Anne Rice but haven’t done so yet. I’m scared off by a lot of vampire fiction because it seems like much of it is all about sex (like what you mentioned with the Anita Blake series) and that’s not really what I’m looking for.


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