No Dominion

No Dominion by Charlie Houston

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A review by Victoria Strauss

Joe Pitt`s a Vampyre. He`s been infected by a Vyrus that slows aging, imparts phenomenal strength and sensory abilities, and survives by feeding off its host`s blood – which forces its host to go out and drink more blood so the Vyrus can survive. There`s a whole Vampyre subculture in New York City, dominated by several powerful Clans – a hidden world of power and violence unsuspected by ordinary human beings. In this secret world, Joe`s what`s known as a Rogue. Though he was once an enforcer for the politically-minded Society, does occasional strong-arm work for the powerful Coalition, and is the object of periodic recruitment efforts by the mysterious Enclave, he has no fixed Clan alliance.

This can be a problem when the freelance jobs dry up, and there`s no money to buy the packaged blood that keeps a Vampyre from prowling the streets and ripping people`s throats out. To make matters worse, Joe`s worried about his girlfriend Evie, whose HIV status is deteriorating and whose medical bills are mounting. Swallowing his pride, he goes to Terry Bird, leader of the Society, and asks for work. As it happens, Terry`s got something that needs looking into. There`s a growing drug problem in the Vampyre community, some really bad stuff that makes users go crazy – not easy to manage for those infected with the Vyrus, which is solicitous of its hosts and cleans drugs and alcohol out of their systems almost as fast as they go in. Terry asks Joe to find out who`s dealing.

A little pressure on Joe`s favorite snitch turns up a middleman: a trust fund kid in a downtown loft who calls himself the Count. The drug is in bags of fresh, Vyrus-infected blood. Drinking infected blood would kill a Vampyre – but the drug isn`t consumed, it`s injected. The Count doesn`t know what the drug is or why it works, but he does know where it comes from: Uptown, above 110th Street, the area controlled by the Vampyre Clan known as the Hood. This is enemy turf. To reach it, Joe will have to cross Coalition territory, and he`s not exactly on good terms with the Coalition either. But Hood thugs and Coalition enforcers turn out to be the least of his problems. A forgotten evil waits in an Uptown mansion, along with a deadly plot that could lead to war among the Clans – unless Joe can survive long enough to figure out who`s pulling the strings.

Already Dead was gritty and hip, packed with exciting action yet carefully attentive to the nuances of character. No Dominion is even better. The plot is a nonstop, explosively gory thrill-ride whose twists and reversals deliver surprises right up until the end – a true page-turner, impossible to put down. The glimpses of Vampyre culture, a bizarre nighttime world invisible to those who walk in daylight, are both fascinating and chilling, and the vicious complexities of Vampyre politics, where the smallest alteration of the balance could tip the Clans into open conflict, have plenty of real-world resonance.

As before, Charlie Huston fills the book with memorable characters – from the bigoted, relentless Vampyre matriarch Maureen Vandewater, to DJ Grave Digga, the charismatic leader of the Hood, to Terry Bird, who combines a post-Woodstock cultural ethos with a Machiavellian mastery of double dealing, to the Count, an amoral Gen-X slacker whose home life is a series of satirical references to Dracula movies ("I hate that self-aware, ironic, pop culture Vampyre shit," Joe tells him at one point). Huston has an amazing ear for dialogue, and endows each of these characters with his or her own distinctive voice. As for Joe, a tough guy`s tough guy whose profane, world-weary first-person narration anchors the story, he edges close to noir stereotype, but is saved from actually becoming stereotypical by his very human doubts, and his unflinching recognition of his own moral failings.

Huston doesn`t neglect the meta-story. Once again, Joe must seek help from the secretive Enclave, which is founded on the belief that the Vyrus is a spiritual force that will ultimately produce a Vampyre savior. Joe`s discoveries about the drug may reflect upon that spiritual quest, and also raise disturbing questions about the origins and history of Vampyre society. Hopefully, we`ll learn more in the series` next installment. I can`t wait.

226 pages, published in
Charlie Houston

A book by Charlie Houston

Charlie Huston American writer. Born in Oakland, California. He currently lives in New York. Houston works in the genres of noir detective and crime novel. He appeared on the literary horizon in 2005. He began with a detective-crime cycle about the cute anti-hero Hank Thompson, "who makes his way through a false identity, his past and a new life for himself." The series has now evolved into a trilogy of the novels Caught Stealing (2004), Six Bad Things (2005) and A Dangerous Man (2006). The author says that the creation of this trilogy was influenced by the books of Charles Bukowski, James Elroy and Cormac McCarthy. Charlie Houston managed to sell the film rights to Caught Stealing to Crossroads Films before the publisher signed a contract with him to publish the novel. The second cycle of Houston, which tells about the private investigator-vampire Joe Pitt, already combines mysticism and detective story. According to the author, the Joe Pitt cycle is almost a deliberate im...

No Dominion PDF

Charlie Huston American writer. Born in Oakland, California. He currently lives in New York. Houston works in the genres of noir detective and crime novel. He appeared on the literary horizon in 2005. He began with a detective-crime cycle about the cute anti-hero Hank Thompson, "who makes his way through a false identity, his past and a new life for himself." The series has now evolved into a trilogy of the novels Caught Stealing (2004), Six Bad Things (2005) and A Dangerous Man (2006). The author says that the creation of this trilogy was influenced by the books of Charles Bukowski, James Elroy and Cormac McCarthy. Charlie Houston managed to sell the film rights to Caught Stealing to Crossroads Films before the publisher signed a contract with him to publish the novel. The second cycle of Houston, which tells about the private investigator-vampire Joe Pitt, already combines mysticism and detective story. According to the author, the Joe Pitt cycle is almost a deliberate imitation of Chandler`s style. Currently, this cycle consists of the novels "Deadly" (2005), "No Dominion" (2006), "Half the Blood of Brooklyn" (2007) and "Every Last Drop" (2008). Charlie Houston also published the off-cycle crime novel "The Shotgun Rule" (2007). It is "the story of a gang of teenagers who broke into a California suburb in the 1980s where they shouldn`t have and stole what was best left alone." In January 2009, the writer is to publish another off-cycle novel "The Mystic Arts of Erasing all Signs of Death". This is the story of a beginner eliminator of traces of incidents and crimes. Two stories by Houston, united by the same heroines, were published as part of the anthologies A Hell of a Woman (2007) and Expletive Deleted (2007). In addition, Houston is the author of about a dozen Moon Knight issues published by Marvel Comics in 2006-2007. Currently, Charlie Houston has already retired from this project, but continues to provide advice on the plot of the series.  Science fiction laboratory , official site .