Vampires seem to be growing in my “to be read” pile so I thought I would dive into a vampire novel. “Already dead” by Charlie Huston is not the classic vampire novel. Rather, it is the first in a series of novels starring Joe Pitt. Pitt is a vampire but this is not a horror novel but instead a crime novel that happens to be populated with vampires and even a zombie or two.
Joe Pitt is a vampire in New York City. While the vampire’s exist secretly among the humans of the city, they have sectioned off the city into territories that are run by rival gangs. A vampire has the choice of aligning with one of the gangs and making his home in their turf or to go rogue and live on the outside of the caste system. It’s a rough life but one that Pitt has come to embrace.
Pitt is a detective of sorts. He used to be an enforcer for one of the gangs, The Society, although he now lives in territory of another group, The Coalition, and is being recruited by another, the cultish Enclave. His lack of membership has allowed him to work for various vampire groups and has given him widespread connections but has also left him without the protection of any of the groups.
The novel opens with Pitt investigating an outbreak of zombies. Like vampires, zombies are the result of a viral infection and Pitt, using the heightened senses of his vampirism, had detected that there is a carrier causing the new zombies. In the course of the investigation, he runs into problems as he is caught in the middle of two of the vampire clans: The Society and The Coalition. He is then hired to find a teenage runaway and his supply of blood is stolen. With the virus beginning to break down his body and his enemies closing in, Pitt must race against the clock to learn the secret of the zombie outbreak to save himself and the girl.
“Already dead” is an interesting novel in its own right and peaked my interest for the rest of the series. Joe Pitt is not a hero and maybe not even that nice of a guy, but he has his own sense of right and wrong and comes across as real. His mental struggle over the plight of his girlfriend, who has HIV, is interesting. Pitt knows that he can heal her but that means that she would become a vampire too.
Huston may be writing a story staring an undead monster but he gives Pitt enough humanity to draw the reader in. The world he creates is fresh and the characters are believable. A brisk writing style pulls the reader along and wanting for more. Devoid of brooding vampires, this is a fun horror/detective story that left me wanting to read the next installment. I am sure that it will not be too long before I do.
Movie Outlook: This book would make a very good movie. It has the mix of action and the supernatural that seems to be the preferred themes in movies today. Joe Pitt is a very strong lead character and would translate well to the big screen. There would be ample opportunity for special effects as there are several different variants on vampires as well as some zombies (and zombies are always good). It would not be an action movie but there is enough there to keep people entertained while the story progresses. Since there are already several books in the series, it is also set up to become the first part of a series of movies which is something that Hollywood likes as well. It may be a little quirkier story than most movies but with the right lead (maybe someone like Ryan Reynolds) who is both strong and smart, it could be a blockbuster movie.