Del Rey/ Randomhouse
Trade Paperback: 978-0-345-47824-5 (0-345-47824-X)
Long before I'd met my first in person, I considered authors to be my friends. They came over to my house, told me stories, took me away from this world and brought me to theirs. Why would anyone but a friend bother? Some friends you meet through others, some go looking for, and sometimes, you just run into someone by chance, who later becomes a friend. That's how I met Charlie Huston.
I was staring longingly at an ad for the Amazon Kindle ebook Reader, when I realized there was a computer program, a free one, that would allow me to read Kindle books. I downloaded it to play with, and then looked at a list of the best selling kindle ebooks. Some of them were free, including Already Dead: A Novel. Naturally, I downloaded it. You can never have too many friends.
Because I wasn't familiar with Mr. Huston (we're not on a first name basis yet), I entered Already Dead with no expectations. That's how I met Joe Pitt, the protagonist. Joe is a bit of everything. A detective, a problem solver, a strong arm...oh yeah and a vampire.
Vampyres, of course, start off as people, so it isn't surprising that they form organizations that resemble those we're all familiar with. Already Dead takes place on the streets of Manhattan, thought not quite the island I know and love. This Manhattan is infested with vampyres.
They own territories like street gangs, and protected their borders. Joe lives below 14th Street in an area run by the Society, but he occasionally does favors for the Coalition, who control most of the Island. As an independent, with no official alliance, he doesn't have much choice. He has to have friends and he makes them by doing favors.
One thing vampyres don't like is publicity. Publicity is bad, because there are people who hunt vampyres, and giving them clues as to where you happen to be holing up is not in their best interest. So the book begins with Joe Pitt hot on the trail of some shamblers, what you'd call zombies. Zombies are brainless, and don't care if they make a big mess. The kind of mess that might interest the public, particularly the police. The kind of mess vampyres don't like. Joe's hunt leads to a series of violent and entertaining mishaps that bring to mind the hard boiled detective stories I enjoyed growing up. True to form, Joe gets beatings, deals with dangerous men, and solves puzzles.
The vampyre organizations are brilliant, and probably my favorite part of the book. From the mafia-like coalition to the grass roots Society to the mysterious Enclave, we get a glimpse of the hidden world of vampyres, a fun house mirror of our own crazy world. I found this to be entertaining and frequently funny enough to chuckle aloud.
Already Dead is a good book. It's fast-paced, entertaining and contains a healthy dose of social satire. As with most books there were a few minor issues I stumbled over that would have been unforgivable in a more serious work. In Already Dead they didn't make a whole lot of difference.
If you're a fan of vampyres, street-smart detectives, or action-packed fun, consider giving Already Dead a chance. I did, and I found myself a new friend.