October 3, 2010

Vampyre Pulp Noir

Vampire Pulp Noir gets it's due in the "Joe Pitt Casebook" series by Charlie Huston. Comprised of five titles, the books tell the tale of Joe Pitt, a rogue Vampyre "living" in modern day Manhattan.

The tale behind the teeth: There's a virus that causes"Vampyrism". This virus necessitates victims to require at least a pint of blood a week, stay out of sunlight, etc. However, it's a very small demographic (about 4000 in Manhattan). Most victims die immediately (due to psychological or physical inabilities to deal with the virus). Vampyres are generally found in small regional "clans" and rarely are humans hunted. Generally, Vampyres will "tap" junkies or the homeless for a pint or two and leave them alive. It's an underground society, and there is a fear that should the non-infected discover them, genocide of all Vampyres would occur. Theirs very little supernatural cause to any of this, Huston does a good job of depicting the cause of Vampyrism as a disease with one of the characters providing exposition since she is a scientist., and it's not exactly glamorous.

Joe Pitt was infected at a Ramones show at CBGB's in the late 1977 or so. The books deal with his struggle to remain independent of the clans, and survive despite generally pissing off everyone around him. His own saviors want little to do with him, and he couldn't care less.

Complicating matters are his HIV positive girlfriend, the hippie social/anarchists downtown, the wealthy hoi polloi in midtown and the gangsta's uptown. And the other clans that are so weird that no one messes with them.The books are extremely violent and Huston stays firmly in the "pulp" field, with stereotypical dialogue for his characters and lots of blood and testosterone. Pitt isn't exactly the sharpest arrow in the quiver, and as you read the books, it's more than once where you wonder why he never takes the path of least resistance. Each time he is offered a helping hand, he spits in the face of his benefactor.

The books are a pretty quick and absorbing read, and the parallels to Raymond Chandler and Dashell Hammeit are obvious. Things continue to build up to what promises to be a very heinous finale in the fifth book, as some dark secrets are about to be disclosed.

I "drained" the first four with-in a weekend. Pitt is a great character, totally flawed but still sympathetic.

Highly recommended.


Jon said...

I don't know why nobody talks about Mick Farren's vampire books. They're better than anything in the genre. I mean, vampires battle flying saucer Nazis to kill the Nazi snake god inside the hollow Earth? Vampires battle Los Angeles new agers who are bringing back the old ones of the Cthlulhu mythos? Farren is the best and no one gives a shit. Admittedly he's a little sloppy but he's punk rock sloppy. The guy is passionate not careless.

I have to put in a word for Bram Stoker's original Dracula too. Everyone sort of figures they know Stoker's book because everyone has seen all of the Dracula movies and the various vampire stories but Stoker wasn't building on any of that shit. Stoker created it. Everyone else owes Stoker. I thought the same way until I finally read Dracula. What a cool book.

Do yourself a favor though. Waste no time on Laurell Hamilton's books. The woman needs to get a job. At walmart.

Nazz Nomad said...

Huston dedicates the books to Stoker and Chandler.

infinite fool said...

Thanks for the recomendation. I'm always looking for good book.... and the time to read one, of course.

KT said...

Don't miss Huston's crime trilogy that starts with "Caught Stealing." I think I like that series a little more. Huston's great.

b said...

great books! though have to catch up as have only read the first half of the last one a few weeks ago at the neighborhood borders. made me miss NYC a little.

and yeah, the chandler is obvious so i was glad to see the dedication.

what initially made me on the first book was the map at the front with the clans. i got a kick out of seeing my school on it.

Mission Maids said...

This is pretty much the summary of his career.