Title: My Dead Body
Author: Charlie Huston
Published by: Orbit
Publication date: 3 Dec. 2009
Genre: Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Source: Personal Collection
“As the concluding volume of this highly acclaimed series opens, Joe has spent a year splashing around in the city’s sewer system, protecting the perimeters of the ground on which his love, Evie, now lives.
Above ground, Manhattan’s Vampyre clans have at last abandoned any claims on civility and have finally sprung fully for each others’ throats. But as Vampyre civil war rages, Joe is tracked down by an old acquaintance and pulled back to the surface. At last, the many questions that have driven him will be put to rest – and the many friends and foes who have defined his world will either be put in the ground or will claw their way to survival.
The carefully maintained peace is forgotten. When the stakes are this high, there can be no neutrality – only winners and losers. But when the blood stops flowing, what side will Joe Pitt be on?”
My Dead Body is the Fifth and final book in the Joe Pitt novel series by Charlie Huston – you can read my reviews and thoughts for all the previous novels in the series on the Eternal Bookcase. I shall link these at the end of this review.
My Dead Body is as gutsy as the previous books in the series and picks up the story from where Every Last Drop (Book four in the series) finishes. More or less. The story takes place a year after Joe Pitt drops a bombshell on the Vampyre world of Manhattan – during which time he has been living off the grid in the cities vast sewer system and generally staying alive by any means possible. Every Last Drop picks up the story by a small-time character from No Dominion (Joe Pitt Casefiles Number 2), Chubby Freeze tracking Joe Pitt down and using his girlfriend, Evie, as leverage for him to take on a new case involving tracking down Chubbys daughter – an interesting character in her own right for the predicament she finds herself in – thus thrusting Joe Pitt back into a tangled web of his own creation back on the surface. The Vampyre clans are at full-scale war with one another so expect to read about The Coalition, Society, The Hood and Enclave clans as well as the smaller, lesser mentioned clans from previous instalments in the series.
There is a lot of ground to cover in My Dead Body, questions that need to be answered and plot-lines that have been carefully established in previous novels that require wrapping up. The novel could work as a stand alone, but you’d be missing out on a lot of back story that has been building up to this point. That being said, if you’ve made it this far in the series already there’s no way that you can miss out on the resolution of the series.
All the characters – that are still ‘alive’ from previous books – are in My Dead Body and all the story-lines involving them are wrapped up in one way or another. Some are far more satisfying to the reader than others. While the individual plot of the story can stand up in it’s own right too. The two – main-plot and books sub-plot – come together nicely and help to resolve all the issues that Joe Pitt has had to face up until now. Character conflicts, protagonist and antagonist, all come to their conclusions with some sense of satisfaction. Even questions raised in Already Dead which may have been forgotten about by this point are re-raised and answered. It’s all very, very satisfying. The main characters in My Dead Body are Joe Pitt – obviously, Evie, Terry Bird, Dexter Predo, The Count, Phillip, DJ Grave Digga, Amanda Horde and the aforementioned Chubby Freeze. I don’t think there are any characters from previous books that go unmentioned and included in the familiar faces list include smaller-part characters from previous novels; Lydia, Sela and Hurley. None of them do much in the ways of character development, but at this late stage in the series they don’t need to. All of the individual stories involving the characters come to their own conclusions too – some for better, some for worse. New characters are Chubby Freeze’s daughter, Delilah and her Vampyre boyfriend, Ben. Delilah is different to all the other characters and stands out in her own way, Ben is somewhat unremarkable and forgettable, but they both bring something to the table in terms of plot.
I found this book a lot more macabre compared to the rest of the series and found that the horror angle had been ramped up a notch; including scientific experimentation gone wrong, decapitation, fire-arms warfare and melee combat. All on top of the usual beating that the reader has come to expect of Joe Pitt and the novels he features in. The body count is higher than in previous novels, and justifiably so.
We’re also shown a slightly different side to Joe Pitt, he’s somewhat more poetic and philosophical with his thoughts (Not his actions) especially in the later half of the novel. It shows that maybe there is more to the man than just mutilations and beat-downs, but because of his circumstances he doesn’t get to think that way often.
On a world-building aspect there isn’t much more to add to what has already been established in previous novels, but there is a sense that the world has changed. Vampyre Turf wars have escalated and the various clan no longer seem to care about how well hidden they are (Or not as the case may be.) There’s a little hint that the world beyond Manhattan might be safer for those Vampyres wishing to remain hidden, but mostly My Dead Body focuses on plot resolution than giving the chance of another novel in the series – which I am rather pleased about, sometimes it’s nice to come across a series of books that’s enjoyable to read that comes to a swift conclusion. Not everything needs to go on forever.
I complained in some of my previous reviews of the Joe Pitt novels that some of the stories felt a bit like ‘filler’ episodes and while this feels the case in hind-sight still, with the exception of Half the Blood of Brooklyn, the other novels do feel like they feed into the finale a little better than first suggested. With little snippets being mentioned and concluded properly in My Dead Body. I felt as though this book was a satisfying conclusion to all that had come before it – the pacing is as break-neck as expected from the series at this point and by now the reader should be attuned to each characters speech patterns to know who is talking and when within the unconventional writing format.
I think in all my other reviews I have saved a special place to mention the Enclave Vampyre clan. They too have their story come to a strange and satisfying conclusion but I do feel like their resolution is the weakest – but maybe that’s because I preferred the Clan and it’s direction under the care of Daniel; who just seemed to handle things a lot better than his successor.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this series of books and urge readers to pick them up and give them a go and even get through the dubious middle-ground of Half the Blood of Brooklyn.
Review links for previous books in the Joe Pitt Casefile series.