Friday, March 16, 2007

"No Dominion" by Charlie Huston

Huston isn't new to the scene; he's been writing crime dramas for the last couple of years. Good crime books, sort of crime noir, if you will.

He first delved into the supernatural realm with "Already Dead", a crime thriller that just happens to have a vampire detective as its main character. "No Dominion" picks up where that book left off and runs at full speed into the same world of sleaze, this time involving different gang leaders and a new street drug. The only difference in these books is that the world of Joe Pitt, the detective in question, happens to be full of vampires, himself included.

Pitt is a Rogue; he doesn't belong to any of the gang leaders anymore. Well, "gangs" might be a harsh way to describe them - there are different factions of vamps with different goals for their people. Pitt used to belong to The Society, Terry Bird's group, but went Rogue in the first book. There's also The Enclave, led by the enigmatic Daniel; The Coalition, led by Pitt's nemisis, Predo; and The Hood, now led by DJ Digga. The City is divided into territories for each group and crossing into another territory is grounds for punishment, possibly burning if the transgression is considered heinous enough. Pitt isn't well-loved by any one group, thus his Rogue status. But he can still get the job done, and Terry's got one in mind.

A new drug has appeared on the streets, a drug that only affects vamps. In this world, vampirism is caused by the Vyrus, sort of a parasite that infects its host and causes an insatiable need for blood. It attacks any sort of threat to its host, so a vamp can't really get high anymore - nothing can get past the Vyrus for very long. Alcohol, human drugs such as pot and coke, none of that "works" anymore. The appearance of this new vamp drug is cause for concern, as it can really take hold of a vamp and mess him up, especially in the wrong dose. And having a vamp go nuts in public is bad for everyone - the human world in these books doesn't know that vamps exist. Terry Bird's assignment for Joe is to find out what exactly the drug is, track down the manufacturer, and bring him back the information.

Or is that the assignment? This book is full of twists and turns, red herrings, mixed loyalties, and ulterior motives. Trying to navigate this maze with Joe, the reader is carried along on a hell of a ride, not sure who Joe should trust, or if he should trust anyone, even himself. The characters aren't very fleshed out, but that actually works here, keeping your knowledge at a minimum and keeping you more involved with Joe. Of course, Joe is a vamp of few words, so we never really know him very well, either.

I highly recommend both of these entries by Huston. The man writes a great crime drama and for those who prefer gritty realism to sappy romance, these vamp novels are perfect. The only thing that might throw you off at first is Huston's writing style - dialogue is written without quote marks, and there are no chapter breaks of any kind. It can be distracting, but it's temporary. Once you get into Joe's world, you won't notice anything but the action. Check him out today.

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