I’ve already spoken about Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt Case Books but I finally got my hands on the final three audiobook editions of the series: Half the Blood of Brooklyn, Every Last Drop, and My Dead Body. Like Already Dead and No Dominion before them these volumes are narrated by Scott Brick. As I tweeted a week or so ago: “Charlie Huston is awesome and Joe Pitt is the best vampire ever. If you haven’t read any of the Joe Pitt novels do so now.” That sentiment still stands. In an publishing phase when the vampire has been nigh on “defanged” by a certain teen-centric series there has been a corresponding resurgence of harder edged and frequently atypical vampire stories as well. Let Me In by John Adjive Lindquist (both the book and film), Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s Strain series (The Strain and The Fall should be available now), and Chang-wook Park’s film Thirst stand alongside Huston’s Joe Pitt novels as shining gems amidst the dross of YA-centric vampire fiction that has seemingly been flooding the market. All of the aforementioned titles are worth a look, particularly if your a fan of vampire fiction, but it is the Joe Pitt Casebooks that in my eyes stand at the top of a, comparatively small, heap.
In tone and pacing the Joe Pitt play out like a crime novel rather than a horror novel. Sure horrific things happen and Huston is unflinching in his portrayal of violence but that violence is more akin the nihilistic and brutal acts of noir novel there to reinforce the morally ambiguous tone rather than the shock value alone. Indeed the structure of the vampyre (yes, Huston spells it with a “y” I forgive him for that) Huston has created mimics the power structures of a crime or detective novel. The various “clans” of Pitt’s Manhattan stand in for the various criminal and law enforcement agencies that might appear in a crime/detective novel while Pitt as a “rogue” vampyre stand’s in for a private detective caught between these various factions. It is a pretty fascinating little tweak of classic crime fiction tropes that makes the novel familiar in structure while the vampyre twist giving it all a fresh take.
Huston’s ability to craft believable dialogue with a unique voice is downright amazing. Pitt’s tone ranges from cocky to desperate and everything in between all with an undertone of laconic resignation and jaded “seen-it-all” attitude. I don’t know if that description does it justice but Pitt has a voice that is unique and multifaceted. I can’t say for sure how that translates on the page but Scott Brick is the perfect narrator for the audio versions and I can’t imagine anyone doing a finer job of bringing Joe Pitt to life.
Of the three final volumes of the series Half the Blood of Brooklyn and My Dead Body stood the strongest with the former being perhaps my favorite of the punch. I don’t want to ruin the surprises but the aggressors eating up turf in Brooklyn was a beautiful touch that highlight’s Huston’s ability to take the flavor of Manhattan and her Burroughs to craft believable if twisted mirrors of real life. Half the Blood of Brooklyn also ends on a major downer that sort of stalls the beginning of Every Last Drop a fair bit and once that entry got going it was over all too quickly. My Dead Body was a fitting finale and I could think of no better way to end the series: it’s explosive, violent, touching, funny, and a synthesis of everything that Huston built during the preceding four novels.
The Joe Pitt Casebooks (and the stellar The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death) have solidified Huston as an author I will be reading years to come (all this after I was suitably unimpressed by the reboot of Moon Knight). If you’re a fan of crime fiction or vampire fiction you should really do yourself a favor and pick up these books. If you have a long commute, excercise, or just like audiobooks Scott Brick’s reading of this series is one of the best performances I’ve ever heard and I really can’t recommend them enough. All five audiobooks are available via Audible.com for around $18 and are well worth the investment.