Every Last Drop, by Charlie Huston

zachb's review

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adventurous dark fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


pinknantucket's review against another edition

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One of my friends insisted I read some crime novels this Readathon, which I am normally very happy to do only at present I find the walls of gold-lettered murder-fests on the bookshelves a bit overwhelming. I've started a few and gone off them quite quickly. I need some suggestions, so if you have any fave crime authors please let me know.

So I cheated and read "The Penge Bungalow Murders" and also this one, which is kind of a hardboiled-detective-meets-vampire story. It's the first book of Huston's I've read and not the first in the Joe Pitt series. (Joe Pitt is the hero, a hard-boiled mercenary kind of vampire who we encounter living up in the Bronx trying to keep a low profile). Normally I don't like to start in the middle of a series but I was desperate (see above). I don't think it matters in that you can still figure out what's going on, but I enjoy the story arc of continuing characters and the surprises of plots drawn out of multiple books.

Nevermind. What did I think of it? Well for starters it was bordering on too gory for me. I'm not really very good with gore. I was very unhappy when someone lost a tongue quite early on, for example. And then very soon after someone else lost an eyeball. And so on. And though mostly I could follow the story the lean, hardboiled style meant that sometimes I was mystified for a few pages until a plot point was explained further. This was exacerbated by what must be the mod way of writing dialogue:

-I am talking now.
-Are you?
-Wait, who are you again? I'm confused because there's nothing to identify who's talking.
-Snap out of it you asshole.
-Who? What? Where am I again?

But overall I quite liked it...did I mention it was hardboiled? A different way to view a favourite city of mine anyway, a city full of strange vampire clans in an uneasy truce with each other, a truce that's about to get busted open big time by our friend Pitt. I'll try another Huston.

bhalpin's review

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The best book yet in this series. I continue to be in awe of Charlie Huston. What's really impressive about this series is how ambitious it is. I would have been happy with a steady diet of small cases like the one in Already Dead, but with every book the scope of the story has gotten larger, until now there are implications for all of vampire Manhattan in this story.

I want the next book NOW.

rsurban's review

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Awesome this series...can't wait for the next, and yet sad that it is going to be the final book in the series.

carol26388's review

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Every starts with Joe's exile in the Bronx, and him dropping in on a post-baseball game exodus, parsing the crowd for Vampyres. He scents one and follows the trail, tracing it to a pack who has just attacked a woman. It's one of the neatest, heart-breaking series expositions I've read; it orients the reader to Joe, the Vampyre life and his moral struggle in an unusual way. Shortly after, he is meeting Esperanza, a tough Puerto Rican and the closest thing they have to a Vampyre boss up there. Or so he thinks, until he runs into a pack again and meets their sadistic maker. What follows was one of those hard scenes that Huston does so well. Creepy, fraught with violence and suspense, and when it finally goes down, it is both better and worse than expected. Huston is very skilled at making me uncomfortable without needing to pile on a load of details; a few carefully chosen words and I cringe.

Manipulations pull him back into the city, as Predo sends him to infiltrate the newest clan, Clan Cure, led by eccentric genius Amanda, now planning to save Vampyres from the virus. From there, he hits up a flophouse, running into Philip, his favorite snitch and crutch. Ah, Phil, a never-ending source of wry addict humor. "Man, this'll teach me to focus exclusively on the ups. I mean, fuck, I don't got a single painkiller in here." The last step in playing the angles is investigating the Coalition's mysterious blood supply that serves as uneasy lynchpin in the peace between clans. "I didn't pass math. Shit, I didn't pass anything. But I can figure that number in my head. Know what that number equals? Equals: Where the fuck to they get it all?

Joe is scrambling in this book, a desperate and subtle manipulation of playing everyone who wants to kill him off each other. He has a cockroach quality, in that almost nothing seems to kill him despite varied and numerous threats. Though he is dispassionate on the surface, he will take revenge. Really, that's another one of the brillances of Huston's writing; how he can imbue a seemingly detached character with emotional complexity. Though he later justifies his actions in terms of Evie, it's quite clear Joe has another, almost nihilistic ethical sense operating.

Huston's really hitting his writing stride with this one. I enjoyed the writing as much as the plotting, perhaps even more. I particularly relish when his 'gangsters' get a chance to share their stunning and sophisticated philosophies: "It is strange. That causing fear in others can help produce freedom. But it is also true. It clears a path before one. Creates space, a perimeter within which one can operate with abandon. I am not saying that it is true freedom. But it is a start."

A running metaphor about gravity and orbital bodies lends a sense of inevitability to the arc of Joe's actions. Evie is the black hole to his trajectory, unavoidable. "The gravity pulling from below Fourteenth doesn't go away... How you ignore a thing like that is, you move. Create momentum. Build velocity to carry your mass outside the influence of the body pulling at yours."

Ah, the characterizations. "The man breeds lies. He spawns them asexually, with no need for any assistance. He exhales and lies fill the air... he dreams in lies."

And the setting: "The bad things about a place like the Whitehouse, listed alphabetically, start somewhere around armed robbery, run past cockroaches and dirty needles, hit their stride with mass murder, start to tail off at rape, and end with a classic: zoophilia."

Really, I'm impressed at how much Huston accomplishes with his staccato style. Not always a comfortable read, but a decently plotted, characterized one with a surprising sophistication.

Book five:

Cross posted at

scotchneat's review

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Hard-boiled renegade vamp takes some major beatings and gives some big punishment on the way back to his girl.

The writing is a weird mixture of what I call "thug lit" (staccato writing style, lots of blood and guns and torture, machismo) and vamp lit, but not always to great effect.

I can picture the author thinking about the film version the whole time he was writing the book.