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by Charlie Huston
Del Ray, December 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 034547824X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Joe Pitt is a PI with a difference. He's a Vampyre. A Vampyre is one who has been infected with the Vyrus, a virus that makes the victim crave blood and unable to tolerate sunlight.

There are also creatures known as Shamblers or Zombies. These are flesh (brain) eaters who kill humans and eat their brains. A bacterium causes people to turn into Zombies. And the bacterium is what drives them to eat flesh, since the bacterium is trying to stay alive. It can only live in a host, but if one is bitten by a carrier of the bacterium, he will become a zombie, if she lives.

Very few humans realize that these diseases exist. The Vamps have sorted Manhattan into territories. Each clan has its own identity and its own leader. The idea is to keep their existence secret and to try to keep bodies drained of blood hidden from the general public, as the best way to ensure their continued success.

A woman comes to Joe asking him to search for her daughter who has run away from home. She is one of the few humans who knows his true identity. One of the clan leaders sent her to Pike, and he must help her or answer to Dexter Predo.

I wonder if Huston wrote this as a parody of noir novels, because it reads like one. It is very funny. All the elements are there (except for flashing neon on rain-slicked streets) Actually, all the best noir was written before the term was coined. Neither Hammett nor Chandler knew they were writing noir. All the current books that are classified as 'noir' seem lame to me. Actually, I think that noir lends itself to film more readily than to books because it is more a visual genre rather than a literary one. Huston's two previous novels are hard-boiled detective novels. This one is different and is worth a look.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, February 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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