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If you think about it Vampirism is not unlike many diseases. STDs like HIV or even the common cold are usually caught off someone else. The only difference here is that you got infected when someone was chewing on your neck. Charlie Huston has taken this concept of Vampirism as a disease to an interesting level in his Joe Pitt novels. If you are infected you have symptoms; strength, cravings and a slight aversion to light. However, like any disease can we not search for a cure? Or are we too busy knocking heads together to really care?
It's sometime after the events of 'Already Dead' and Joe Pitt is desperate for work. His money stash is running low and more importantly so is his blood stash! Blood is so important because Joe is a Vampire rogue. He works separately from the various clans that make up Manhattan Island and this has made him a lot of enemies. It's a shame then that he has to cross the entire Island to investigate a new drug that is killing newly made vampires. Will Joe be able to uncover the truth and work around all the politics, in a world were politics is often deadly.
I really enjoy the universe that Huston has created in his Joe Pitt novels and with 'No Dominion' he really expands on his ideas. The first book explored the attempts by a Vampire clan to create a cure, but this book looks more into the politics of the clans. There are essentially 4 major interests on Manhattan Island that all want what's best for themselves, but also to keep the existence of vampires hidden from the general populous. Huston has created in Pike a character who is a perfect person to explore the different motives behind the different groups - because he does not care.
In many ways Pike is your average hardboiled PI who goes out, gets beaten, and does the job. He is a wonderful character who is both extremely tough, but also incredibly loyal to those he likes. Separate from the clans he is hired by each one on occasion to investigate a case. 'No Dominion' has a great investigation as on a basic level it is just another drug pusher story, but the inclusion of vampires adds so much to it. Rather than portray a world of velvet and pasty skin, Huston instead has Joe Pitt, a tough ex-punk who will take no BS from anyone.
If you have not read 'Already Dead' the first in this series you may struggle with some of the relationships that unfold. This is because the first book introduces the idea of the clans and the various people who hate Pike. 'No Dominion' impressively builds upon this structure and moves the relationships on to the next level. The dynamics and relationships in this book are really well written and make the reader far more invested in the story.
With such a great character, concept and investigation I felt that 'No Dominion' was a fantastic read. However, there was one issue with the pacing that makes the final 50 pages a struggle to read. Throughout the novel Huston managed to keep the pace up and wrote some great action sequences, but he seemed to struggle with the reveal. The reveal is a concept in most crime books were we discover who did it and why. Unfortunately for this book the reveal is far too long and in-depth meaning that it did not feel in keeping with the rest of the book. Huston would have been better off telling us less and introducing some of the explained elements in later books.
Like any book based on the supernatural this is not for everyone. However, the world that Huston has created in firmly rooted in modern society so even non-genre fans can understand what is occurring. With a great story, characters and interesting politics I was really impressed with the quality of this novel. If it had not been for the slow ending I would have easily given it the full 5 stars. As it is I would still recommend it to any fan of vampire books or science fiction, just read the first book in the series beforehand so that you feel up to date.
Author: Charlie Huston
Price: amazon uk - £5.49
New York's favourite rogue detective, Joe Pitt, is about to find himself caught in a nasty power struggle between competing Vampyre clans. Down to his last few bags of blood and behind on rent, Joe takes on a decidedly dirty job: finding the source of a powerful drug that's hit the street, one strong enough to affect Vampyres and make its users do unpredictable things, things that could bring unwelcome exposure to New York's Vampyre community. Unfortunately, that entails crossing the mid-Manhattan turf of the Coalition into the equally fearsome territory of the Hood in Harlem. One thing about Vampyres: they have plenty of time on their bloodstained hands to engage in complex, violent feuds. Worse, Joe might be some powerful player's idea of a sacrificial pawn.