Or, the fourth Joe Pitt book by Charlie Huston.
Having loved the first three Joe Pitt novels, it goes without saying that I was going to enjoy this book. It is surely the sign of a good book that it entertains you throughout but leaves you almost angry at the end because you want to read more. Of course, this feeling is amplified by the inclusion of ‘extras’ at the end of the book, which give you the impression that there are more pages to read than there are in the actual story. This frustration is more ironic when the extras are the first chapter in a book you have already read (in this case, The Devil You Know by Mike Carey). Nonetheless, Huston writes the hell out of the next chapter in the life of Joe Pitt, making the wait for the final book in the cycle even more excruciating.
Every Last Drop sees Pitt hiding out in the Bronx, a year after the events of the third book (which precipitated his exile from the island of Manhattan after he burnt all this bridges with the only people who cope with his rogue status among the clans of New York). The Bronx is a wilderness in terms of vampyres, and Pitt is scraping by in his bid to survive. Obviously, things change when he is offered an assignment by the head enforcer of The Coalition, Predo, to spy on the girl he helped in one of the earlier novels, who has now formed her own clan with the aim of finding a cure for the vyrus. In doing so, he discovers the secret behind where The Coalition (who have about a thousand members) gets all their blood, which changes everything for everyone for ever …
The idea behind these books is a great one – hard-boiled noir set in the world of vampirism in the modern day – and the execution is flawless. Huston writes a fully realised world of characters and detail and with a great central protagonist, and he does it with razor-sharp style – if you read the words out loud, you’d probably cut your tongue. To be able to tell such an engrossing tale in such a gripping fashion is quite a skill, and Huston never lets up or loses his way. He even manages this while seemingly handicapping himself by not indicating who is speaking dialogue – he sets it apart with a long dash but there is no ‘said Joe Pitt’ afterwards. Yet the reader never loses the plot, helped by everyone having identifiable speech patterns and his storytelling ability.
The book is a great chapter in the storyline but it doesn’t quite compete on its own terms – it is very much the penultimate book, as plot strands are put into place, people are moved into position, and everyone important to the mythos that Huston has created is given some screen time to find out where they are one year after the last book. There is even time to discover a feral group of vampyres in the Bronx. But the book seems to exist only to reveal the secret of the blood that will initiate the events of the final instalment, which can’t arrive fast enough. Again, I look forward to seeing the conclusion of Pitt’s story but at the same time wanting more of his adventures. I hope the wait isn’t too long.