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REVIEW: Every Last Drop by Charlie Huston

REVIEW SUMMARY: A good series overall, but this one is a misstep.



PROS: Joe is a likable character with an attitude that just won’t quit; nice world building.
CONS: Lacks the narrative drive and depth of the previous books.
BOTTOM LINE: While the book was not bad, it is probably the weakest of the series so far.

Every Last Drop is the latest entry in Charlie Huston’s entertaining Joe Pitt Casebooks. This noir-ish series chronicles the dealings of a New York City vampire who is just trying to stay afloat amidst a bunch of vampire clans with different agendas, whether they are asserting mob rule, liberating the vampires, worshiping the Vyrus that makes them crave blood, curing the Vyrus, etc. This time around, Joe, having been exiled from the upper parts of Manhattan, is driven back into old territory and must contend with new clans and old enemies.

Actually, for Joe, just about everyone is an enemy. He prefers to be a loner, usually taking odd jobs offered by the vampire clans as a fixer, the payment being blood to quench his occasional thirst. The city’s Vampires live in hiding since they are outnumbered by those who are not infected by the Vyrus. They congregate into clans and their respective leaders often use Joe to interact with other clans or just generally take care of loose ends. But Joe doesn’t really answer to anyone. His tough-talking, take-no-prisoners attitude never takes a break (even when he is outnumbered) and that’s what makes Joe so likable. His actions usually lead to unexpected story directions as well.

In previous books, Joe’s actions were largely the driving force behind Huston’s swift narrative. Every Last Drop seems to lack that narrative drive, almost as if Joe is strolling through the first third of the book waiting for the plot to begin. When it finally does, there is a lack of urgency that was present with the previous novels. We know Joe has stuff to do, but it doesn’t seem as important – at least until a secret reveled near story’s end gives Joe (and the reader) the motive to be more attentive. The extended absence of Evie (Joe’s HIV-positive girlfriend) felt like another piece that was missing. That subplot gave the previous stories some depth; this time around, that depth is missing.

For those that have been following the series, you’ll still want to check in with Joe even though there’s not much new stuff here to be seen. While Every Last Drop is OK overall, it’s probably the weakest of the series so far, but it does seem to set up some interesting clan politics for future books. Interested readers should start with the first book (Already Dead) and follow Joe as he kicks ass through the next two books (No Dominionand Half the Blood of Brooklyn, this last one being the strongest in the series).

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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