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Showing 1-10 of 118 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 209 reviews
on January 1, 2006
That Charlie Huston is on the edge was evident in his debut, the unconventional "Caught Stealing" and its equally offbeat sequel, "Six Bad Things". In both, Huston writes with a hip and irreverent flair that is all his own, brutal tales of the seamy underbelly of life that are at the same time darkly and cynically humorous.

In "Already Dead", Huston applies his uncommon talents to a very common but wholly unexpected theme: vampires. The result could be described as the abominable offspring of a marriage of JR Tolkien and Quentin Tarrantino, a bizarre but refreshingly unique tale of the undead set in contemporary New York City. This is no Bram Stoker. Huston's vampires, or "vampyres", have neither fangs nor Transylvanian accents, and sleep in Manhattan apartments rather than coffins. Huston's ghouls are victims of the vampyre "vyrus", an infection that instills an irresistible craving for new blood, while at the same time cleansing the blood of all impurities. Thus explaining the legendary strength and immortally of the Vampire myth.

Joe Pitt is one that is "already dead", a forty-five year old New Yorker who looks twenty-five. Pitt and his ilk live, work, eat, and play among us, a virtual parallel universe of vampyre cults and clans that mirror New York's more conventional society. There is the "Coalition", the largest clan, corporate and business-like, suit-and-tie vampires ruling midtown from north of 14th Street up to Harlem. The "Society" inhabits the East Village. Progressive liberals, they are committed to diversity and the day when vampires are accepted in society - simply another minority like gays or the disabled. The "Enclave", the smallest but most feared, is a cult of extremists - a band of Zen Buddhist-like ghouls who hang out in a lower west side meat market warehouse starving themselves to an imagined spiritual passage to the another realm of blood lust depravity. And then there are biker-vampyres, homeys, Chinese and Italian vampire mobs, all controlling their own turf with varying degrees of influence and power. Filling out Huston's nightmare version of a Tolkien "Middle Earth" fantasy world are flesh eating zombies ("shamblers", or, in the politically correct jargon of the "Society", "Victims of Zombification") and a mysterious wraith. Like author Charlie Huston, Joe Pitt is ever the maverick, the rogue vamp refusing to align with any of the clans, living in Society territory while carrying out hits and dirty deeds for the highest bidder. When called upon by the Coalition's boss to help track down the runaway daughter of a Manhattan socialite, Pitt finds himself caught in the middle of warring clans of the undead while also questioning his own "life" and love choices, at least to the degree a vampyre chooses such things.

With tongue firmly in cheek, Huston spins this cleverly original yarn that is as rich in irony while every bit as raw and brutal as his first two efforts. At first the blood lust may leave the reader a bit squeamish, but you'll soon be pulling for Joe and forgetting about his rather nasty but uncontrollable habits. As evident in his other novels, the eccentric and sordid Charlie Huston isn't for everybody. But the brilliance of "Already Dead" will undoubtedly add new converts to his own growing cult of followers.
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on April 21, 2017
Liked: Huston's character development and storyline.
Disliked: The use of sexual situations and foul language. I'm confused about the value they provided.
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on February 10, 2012
Just when I think you've seen every possible twist on the once-tired vampire mythos, I seem to find a new, completely different take--a new fleshed-out alternate world that sucks you into it. The first of 5 Joe Pitt novels, this mash-up of hard-boiled private investigator noir and a scientific rather than supernatural reason for "vampyres" (a "vyrus", rather like the T-virus "zombies" of Resident Evil [Blu-ray] but far more complex) goes that crucial step further and creates a detailed world altered by this different reality--I guess it'd be called the "Pittverse" these days (as in, character + -verse [for universe], I.e., Buffyverse, Enderverse, etc.). It's different though, due to the edgy first-person private investigator style narrative voice of Joe Pitt.

Totally unique genre-mash. Great writing. And a new alternate reality that gets deeper the further you go. Nothing sucks me in like a believable, fascinating alternate reality well-fleshed-out by an intelligent author with an attitude. That's why I'm so taken by book series like Sergei Lukyavenko's The Night Watch (Watch, Book 1), Stephanie Meyer's Twilight & (only just begun) Host sagas, Frank Herbert's Dune, Orson Scott Card's Enderverse & Tales of Alvin Maker books, J.K. Rowling's Potter epic, etc., and single book worlds as in M.T. Andersen's Feed, Heinlein's Starship Troopers, etc. And video -verses like Buffy, Firefly, Star Trek, etc.

It's no Night Watch (the ultimate literary alternate world I've discovered), but Almost Dead will not let you out of it's pages until it's over. Then, you'll crave the next book, No Dominion No Dominion: A Novel. Fair warning.
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on December 24, 2009
I know a lot of people liked this book, but for me: meh. The writer has decided to forgo the basic writing convention of using things like quotation marks (instead using an emdash at the start of what is considered to be someone speaking), identifying the "speakers" in a conversation, and then jump-cutting to another "scene" without any sort of physical delimiter to identify that a new scene at a different point in time is now taking place. I actually got the impression that this was used for no other purpose than to appear "cool." Instead, it made it extremely difficult to figure who was speaking; this was made even worse when a scene "cut" to a new point in time in the next sentence and had conversations that had nothing to do with the people speaking just a few sentences earlier. It was so bad I couldn't get through it... and that's saying a lot from a voracious reader.
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on October 20, 2013
Already Dead constructs a well thought-out, consistent alternative world and considers philosophical questions that are of interest to the living and undead alike. The story pulls you in and keeps you flipping pages. It will deserve five stars from those who aren't bothered by the vulgar language and the sometimes graphic depiction of the perverse and the sordid. I wasn't bothered enough to keep me from finishing the novel in a day, but maybe enough to keep me from seeking out other installments of what looks like a growing series.
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on July 4, 2011
First off, this isn't a bad book if you're into this kind of thing. I just happened to find out that I'm not (hence the three stars).

The mood was set pretty well. It had a hard gritty feeling to it, which is a nice change compared to most modern vampire stories that focus on sex appeal and remaining humanity. Most of the characters were very well fleshed out, and you had a good sense of them within moments of their introduction. You knew what they were aiming for, the type of person they were, and what kept them going.

Except the narrator. I don't even remember what he was supposed to look like aside from maybe a vague mention of his height. He has almost no personality, he doesn't really clarify WHY he does what he does (if he doesn't want the drama, why not just leave the island? No mention is made of vampires being unable to cross running water, so hypothetically he wouldn't need to deal with any of the drama). A good chunk of his vocabulary is "Yeah" or "Sure" or other similar words. It seems like the author wanted to create a cold, tough character but (in my opinion) failed to create depth that a lead character--especially a narrator--should have.

The organization of vampires was alright, but it reminded me a bit too much of White Wolf's Vampire RPG. Get assignments or quests from various clans, try to decide who you can and can't trust, owe favors, repay favors, try to avoid being on anyone's bad side... It vaguely reminded me of reading a playthrough of VPtM: Bloodlines. Even the descriptions of the clans resembled the games' stereotypes a bit too much (a group of anarchists/revolutionaries, a group of rich and powerful vampires that pull most of the strings, rough gang-like vampires, others that are kind of creepy looking)... I don't know if it was intentional or not, but the similarities were a bit too noticeable.

My biggest pet peeve was how dialog was handled. Rather than using quotation marks, every single piece of dialog is preceded by a dash (--).

--So basically the conversation reads like this.
--Really. It's quite irritating.
--How so?
--Well, considering the lack of personality in the main character's speech, there were quite a few times that I wasn't sure who was talking.
--You mean the author didn't use and "he said/she said" type language?
--Not really.
--Well that sucks.

This isn't really my cup of tea, though I won't say it's bad. If you're into paranormal stories and/or stories with organized crime organizations, you might be interested in this. It's definitely worth a try at least.
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on July 9, 2015
So this wasn’t an awful book. Nice for a bit of light reading if you like a bit of detective work, violence, and vampires (with a zombie or two thrown in there for good measure).

It’s got pedophilia & rape in it though, so if that’s something you wanna avoid then you probably shouldn’t bother with this book. The book wasn’t too graphic about it, most of it was just mentions of past crimes by the bad guy, but it got pretty close for a character at one point, so just wanted to warn you. (The s*** head gets what’s coming to him though, so at least there was that)
The main character, Joe Pitt, has a soft spot for kids, especially since he was also abused as a child. So he doesn’t let s*** heads who hurt ‘em off easy. Joe’s a pretty tough guy. He’s basically hired muscle most of the time, but he’s sharp so people will hire him to do more than just beat some guy up cuz he owes money or something. He’s trying to make his way in his world without getting himself killed by the opposing vampire factions around NY city. He’s what they would call a Rogue since he’s not affiliated with any vampire Clan so unfortunately for him it means he doesn’t have much in the way of allies amongst his own kind.
This causes trouble for Joe quite a bit in the book cuz he’s pulled in different directions by different Clans. Then he’s got a zombie problem to deal with, a runaway girl to find, there’s some sort of thing out there that doesn’t leave behind a scent. So he’s got his work cut out for him.
The plot was alright, nothing too impressive but it wasn’t a total bust either. The book isn’t that long (268 pages), so like I said before, it’s good for a bit of light reading. It took me a bit longer to read cuz it didn’t hold my attention too well when I got my hands on other books (I think I read 3 other books in between the beginning and the end of this one). But I bet if you just sat down and read it, it wouldn’t take too long. The end picks up when some of the action really starts but I found this book to be pretty mellow. Maybe that’s cuz Joe was a pretty mellow guy.

I guess another point to bring up is that the vampire mythos is treated a bit differently, but not by much. Vampirism is a virus in this book and it needs blood to survive. So it makes its host a hunter; giving ‘em super strength, super speed, super senses, etc. Huston did stick with the no sunlight thing. It’ll straight up kill the vamps in this book. And if the virus isn’t fed, it causes extreme pain for the host and of course causes a lack of self control, pushing the host to go and feed. It’s pretty standard vampire stuff. Huston only treated it as more of disease, a real physical malady, instead of a supernatural one.

So yeah, it wasn’t that bad. Maybe if I have money and see the sequels in a bookstore, I’ll think about picking the series up again.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 19, 2015
Read in 2010, I enjoyed this book immensely. It is dark and gritty and is NOT a love story. This is a refreshing vampire book that doesn't circle around women swooning over the dark and mysterious living dead. So much so, there is absolutely no sex for the lead.
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on April 24, 2014
First of all, this book has no chapters whatsoever. It's just 290 pages of what would appear as some kind of monologue interspersed with other characters' words or some kind of attempt to combine fiction with stream of consciousness writing. I usually complain about when a book has no chapter demarcations, but this book doesn't even have any chapter breaks. Chapter demarcations make it so much easier to see how closer you are to the end of a chapter or to find a stopping place when you need to do so. Finding a stopping place in this book is impossible because of there being no lulls or breaks in it. It wasn't a bad book, but badly formatted. I'm surprised that the author's editor let it through this way, assuming he had one. I know it's a relatively short book, but even most short ones have some kind of chapter organization. The story in itself was good, but overly complicated with far too much going on without better organization. It was like reading a literal transcript of a documentary complete with thoughts and feelings of characters. I will continue to read this series hoping that the formatting will improve because it's not a bad plot. I can deal with it now that I know what I'm into. If you can deal with all this, I say you should give it a shot. The characters are all really good unless you can't deal with a great deal of LGBT characters or homoeroticism. It will be interesting to see what happens to the main character next.
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on January 3, 2010
I was a bit wary at first as I started this novel, the first of many freebies I had uploaded to my Kindle. Getting into the book proved to be a headache to me due to a few questionable stylistic devices. Primarily, Huston forgoes the traditional conventions of using quotation marks to denote dialogue, instead using dashes and not even identifying the speaker. This made dialogue quite frustrating to follow.

Furthermore, there are no page breaks or chapters to indicate a change of scene. It can be incredibly annoying when the protagonist seemingly teleports from a heated brawl to the comfort of a bar stool. Add to that flashbacks told in the present tense with no indicators to distinguish them from the normal flow to the plot, and the reader is left with a number of "wait, what?" moments.

Finally, I have to say I was not at all impressed by protagonist Joe Pitt's "tough guy" act. His demeanor was uncomfortably cliche-- a rebel and a lone rider with his tongue in his cheek and little regard for the opinions of others, Joe's character was entirely one-dimensional with the exception of a space of about three paragraphs in which he recounts the tragedies he endured before becoming a vampire.

These complaints aside, Already Dead gradually grew on me about halfway through. Huston is, for all intents and purposes, a good storyteller with quite an imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed Huston's explanation that vampires and zombies receive their conditions from biological viruses. Seeing what this disease (the Vyrus) does to Joe's body was intriguing. I also greatly appreciated the complexity of Joe's relationship with his girlfriend Evie. This relationship caused a conflict within Joe that I actually found myself caring about, something the rest of the book was entirely unable to achieve.

Huston can also creatively describe a scene when he's not bogged down by his choice of first person perspective, which loads the book with many sentences beginning with "I". When Huston leaves Joe's viewpoint and describes a scene before him, the result is often impressive--unfortunately, this did not occur as often as I would have liked.

In short, I think Huston is a fairly gifted writer with creative ideas, but almost all were executed in an entirely mediocre manner. Although there are good ideas buried in there, the whole thing left me feeling in no way enriched, and I didn't dwell on the story at all beyond the moment I reached the final page. I am somewhat curious to see if and how Joe's character develops in the rest of the series and whether he is granted any more depth, but unfortunately, based on my experience from this book I will not be paying to continue the series. Isolated, this book was a worthwhile experience for the price.
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