Thursday, May 31, 2007

No Dominion – review

Author: Charlie Huston

First Published: 2006

Contains spoilers

Joe Pitt returns in the sequel to Already Dead. To recap, Joe Pitt is a vampire – someone who has contracted the virus. He is a rogue, not aligned to the various clans that rule Manhattan. This makes him barely tolerated in the Society held territory he lives in and persona non grata in the territories of the Hood and the Coalition.

In this volume, low on blood stock and cash, Joe is looking for work and ends up doing an ‘on the quiet’ job for Terry Bird, leader of the Society. A new drug has hit the streets, one that can effect the infected and Terry wants to know where it’s coming from. In fact Joe has come across a user of this drug already, at the very head of the novel when the strung out junky tried to push his head through safety glass in a bar room brawl.

Having tracked down a user, a new fish (as the newly infected are called) who calls himself The Count and wears Chocula and Buffy T-Shirts, Joe realises that his search will take him to The Hood, straight through the Coalition territories and into the territory controlled by DJ Grave Digga.

These books are, first and foremost noir novels, with vampyres. The vampyres are infected, rather than truly supernatural creatures, though in the first novel Hutson introduced a truly supernatural element in the form of a wraith. This has a much more traditional noir premise at the heart of the plot than perhaps the first book did but Hutson still manages to sneak some of the more supernatural elements into the background via the Enclave and their mysterious leader Daniel.

The book fairly rockets along and has well drawn characters, the prose gripping you and keeping you turning the pages. I still have a little bit of an issue with how Hutson writes his dialogue – have a look at the Already Dead review for an example – but it is just because it is presented in an unusual style and takes some getting use to. That said the actual content of the dialogue is fantastically written and each character has a distinct voice that prevents the confusion that might have occurred because of the writing style. This is a personal issue and shouldn’t (indeed, for me, didn’t) spoil the enjoyment of the book.

If I am going to be fair, that unusual style actually enhances the noir feel. The dialogue is there, voices hanging before us and the narrative (in the voice of Pitt) almost becomes the voice over narrative of the film noirs of old.

What we do get in this novel is a deeper understanding of the political structures of the Clans and the intricate chess game that the Clan leaders play. This is tempered by Pitt’s own loathing of the Clan structure and desire to be independent.

Excellent pulp noir, this is well worth your time and effort. 7.5 out of 10.

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