Burning Bright- a poetical(ish) review of the Joe Pitt Series by Charlie Huston

If the Joe Pitt series by Charlie Huston were an animal, it would be a tiger, but not a tired, old tiger that you see in the zoo, nor a sleek/ vital tiger that you might imagine roaming the Siberian Tiaga. No, it would be a ragged beast, a tiger that had gone hungry one too many times, suffered one too many a disease, got into one too many a fight. One that’s been picked over by fleas and parasites

It is a scarred tiger and very tired. That’s not to say that it’s weak, however. It isn’t weak at all, but its strength doesn’t stem from youth or vitality or any heroic quality. It’s more like the wraith kings from The Lord of the Rings. It’s soul is so old that it’s almost worn away. It presents a substantive danger because it is calculating, paranoid, and just plain mean. It lacks morality, and yet, paradoxically, underneath all those graying layers there is a pounding, heart that courses overheated blood, and if it weren’t for this pounding heart, this tiger would have plunged itself off the roof of the Empire State Building years ago.

This tiger may once have been a man. Or maybe it once ate a man. It’s impossible for the tiger to say for sure, but in either case, whether it ate a man or was a man, it has a taste for human blood. This tiger has no fear, but it is paranoid. It’s pretty sure that its own shadow has murderous designs. It lashes out at its own tail.

This tiger has no problem with pain. Heck, it’s an old buddy of pain. the tiger and pain go out hunting together sometimes, but he does have this problem with love. He can’t seem to shake love or make sense of it, and it haunts his dreams

And yes, I said Empire State Building. This tiger lives in Manhattan and it knows every inch of the ground, every subway stop, every bar, every nightclub, every seedy alley where someone might get mugged. It remembers the 60’s 70s and 80s and how everything was built and unbuilt then built again. he knows the accents and faces, and remembers the golden days of the Dutch and their New Amsterdam , and the Jazz Age and Harlem, and the 60’s in the Village.

Some people think the Tiger is a hero, but the tiger would probably just eat those people. Those people should just be quiet- for reasons of their own safety. This Tiger is old. And it hunts. This tiger will be dead. And it will hunt.

If the Joe Pitt series were a drink, it would be a dozen Lone Star beers lined up on the bar in front on you in a small, unpretentious rockabilly bar in Manhattan.

How to dress for this series: dark, form-fitting jeans, a gray t-shirt, leather jacket and black industrial boots. Possibly shades.

Synopsis: the Joe Pitt series follows the anti-heroic  adventures of Joe Pitt (real first name: Simon) ,  an outsider among outsiders, a renegade vampire (Charlie Huston calls them vampyres)  in a Manhattan that is secretly infested by clans of vampires. Joe doesn’t belong to any one clan, instead- in order to survive- he does dirty work for all of them, and his work is dirty. At best, Joe is an antihero who does the occasional good deed, like saving a young person’s life, (He’s also kind to most bartenders)

At worst, Joe is a cowardly killer. Most likely, he stands somewhere between the two. If he has any redeeming qualities, which he does, it’s that he is deeply in love with a young woman, Evie, who’s dying of AIDS, and that he is a lesser evil: he may kill people, but is not a sadist about it; usually, he goes in for the quick kill. If there’s anything interesting about Joe, and there is, it’s that he seems to lack fear and he’s not in the least bit deterred by pain. Joe may be a killer, but he’s also a victim, a pawn in the Byzantine power plays that transpire between the major powers-that-be in Manhattan.

This is the real challenge of the books (both for Joe and us readers) can we figure out what’s really going on? When Joe takes on an assignment, whose purposes is he actually serving? Then, for Joe, the question becomes one of whether he will be a fly in the ointment for the powers that be, or whether he will go along for the ride. Neither choice provides much comfort.

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About Armand Inezian

Armand Inezian is an English instructor by day, and a grant administrator by later-in-the-day, and a writer by night! VampCon- a dark, fantasy thriller- is his first novel. He resides in Boston with his wife, two children, three cats, and one house that needs a lot of work.
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