I read almost all of Charlie Huston’s catalogue between 2011-2012. I loved the Hank Thompson trilogy and The Shotgun Rule was good as well. I don’t often enjoy fun, trashy Tarantino-esque thrill writers but Huston has more talent than most. I couldn’t put his books down. The ending of the Hank Thompson trilogy stays with me to this day.
However, I avoided the Joe Pitt series series for a long time because I don’t like those kinds of monster crossover works. I tried one Jim Butcher book and while it was fine, I didn’t feel compelled to return to the rest of the series. I love urban mysteries and so I feel like urban fantasy should be a genre I can appreciate but I need verisimilitude with my fiction unless it’s just a pure fantasy work. Crossovers just don’t do it for me.
That said, I kept remembering the fun I had in my mid-20s reading Huston’s work so I decided to suck it up (no pun intended) and give it a try.
The results are about what I excepted. Huston’s prose is as crisp as I remember. I had a lot of fun just listening to the characters banter with each other. And his East Village setting is richly described. The East Village is my favorite neighborhood in Manhattan and this is a great time capsule of it even from a decade ago before gentrification began to stretch out its greasy hand.
Nevertheless, I had a hard time taking the stakes in this book too seriously because…vampires and zombies. Every time I’d get into it, I would suddenly be jerked from reality and it was just too much to overcome. I wish it had just been a classic mystery tale.
But you can’t knock a book due to its subject, especially since you knew what subject it was going in. Huston’s plotting is messy. The action starts and stops in fits and requires a lot of late exposition to cover ground. Also, as with a lot of male mystery writers, the gender and sexual dynamics here are not great.
It’s a fun book from a fun writer who I probably appreciate more because I liked him so much in my 20s before my tastes became refined. I may make it to book two some day.