Simon Canderous is back in Deader Still, the second book from Anton Strout about a guy with some very interesting powers working for the secret Department of Extraordinary Affairs (D.E.A.) in New York City. I really enjoyed the first book, Dead To Me and now with Deader Still I can certainly say that Anton has quite the future in the Urban Fantasy genre. I chatted with Anton on Sunday at Comic Con and told him I was quite surprised that I enjoyed Dead To Me so much because I am quite biased when it comes to reading male authors and about male characters when I am so used to reading the opposite. I can say that Anton is yet another author who has opened my eyes and I am already waiting for the third book in this series, which is still in the process of being written.
For those who don't know who Simon is or the world he inhabits, Deader Still takes place in present day New York City. The citizens of Manhattan have no clue that the island is filled with a great deal of paranormal and magical activity. Simon is an investigator for the D.E.A. and investigates these crimes with his partner and mentor of sorts, Connor. Simon was recruited because he is a psychometrist, someone who can touch an object and will know the owner's memories or certain points in their lives when the object was in their possession.
Deader Still opens with Simon and Connor at Comic Con. Simon has been with the NYC Department of Extraordinary Affairs for seven months and has a chance at getting a promotion. If Simon can pass certain tests, including a very dangerous one in something called the oubliette, he will become Connor's full-fledged partner. Connor is a bit peeved at Simon because Simon was asked to join the Fraternal Order of Goodness, an organization much like the Freemasons by his boss, Inspectre Quimbley. Connor wasn't asked and now there is some tension between the two. Otherwise, things couldn't be better for Simon, especially since he has a new girlfriend, Jane who understands him, faults and all, and still wants to be with him. Simon saved Jane in Dead To Me, and now the cultist works at Tome, Sweet Tome, a magical book store cataloging books. Jane works very closely with one of the directors in the D.E.A who can't stand Simon. Simon feels the same way with Director Wesker and has been having some jealousy issues because Jane and Wesker are a bit too friendly. Simon doesn't want to mess anything up with Jane so he keeps his suspicions to himself.
Comic Con is a great place for paranormal activity where no one would bat an eyelash at something out of the ordinary, so Simon will have his test in the Oubliette there. Trouble seems to follow Simon wherever he goes and the Oubilette almost kills him because of some malfunction. It seems someone has tampered with it. Who would want Simon dead?
When Connor and Simon are relieved of their duties at Comic Con, they are put on a case. A party cruise full of lawyers are found dead and it could be vampires responsible. This is not a good thing because it has been 737 days since the last vampire attack. Simon uses his powers, and in his visions he sees fangs and some sort of creature sucking the blood and life out of one of the victims on the cruise. It is now up to Simon and Connor to find out if vampires are on the rampage and stop them before they kill again.
Not only does Simon have Inspectre Quimbley breathing down his neck about Simon upholding the ideals of the Fraternal Order of Goodness and taking over the investigation from Connor, but Jane has become a bit too powerful with her own witch like powers. Simon's jealousy keeps rising whenever he sees Jane and Wesker together. And Simon's women problems are about to get even worse, when a blast from Simon's secret past comes back into his life. Before Simon went straight, he was a thief and quite skilled at picking locks. Mina, a woman from his former crew wants his help in stealing the very famous and expensive Scream painting. Mina won't take no for an answer and threatens Simon with blackmail. She will hurt Jane. Simon has no choice but to help Mina, even if it means loosing Jane in the process.
Mina is not the only one trying to make Simon's life a living hell. He does have an enemy who wants to do him in. Connor is also being very secretive and zombies start appearing out of nowhere with the intent to kill Simon. It can't get any worse, right? It does when Simon loses his psychometric powers. Now Simon is just a normal guy stuck in some over the top and out of control situations. He has to find a way to stay alive and figure out a way to keep Jane and Manhattan safe.
Simon is the type of hero who really grows on you. He is not an alpha hero and more of a beta hero if any. He is such a hero who may want to run the other way but will stay and put up a fight. Nine times out of ten Simon ends up bruised and beaten. I was surprised that the guy was still standing after the number of times he was bashed over the head. Simon is really put through the wringer in Deader Still, but everytime someone tries to bring him down, he gets back up to fight again.
Anton has written Simon in such a way where you can't help but cheer him on. You want Simon to defeat the bad guys, get the girl and a nice pat on the back. Simon was almost killed or beaten to a pulp because of Mina. I wanted Simon to punch her in the face, but since Simon is such a good guy and has great scruples, it isn't in him to abuse a woman, even though she deserves it because she is one of the baddies.
Simon and Jane's relationship is still so fresh and new. I thought they were very sweet together. They are a great team. The majority of the time Jane comes to Simon's rescue. You would think Simon would be embarrassed by a woman saving him, but Simon is thrilled he has Jane to be there as his backup. He never tells her she shouldn't or she can't because he is the man. He cares for her well being, but he never pushes her to the side and takes control of the situation. They are partners, much like Simon and Connor are and it will be interesting to see things progress between them. Anton better not have them break up!
There are a great deal of well written action scenes with magic, ghosts, zombies and other things that go bump in the night. I could find no complaint with the descriptions and scenery of Manhattan. Anton really captures the environment of New York City and those various recognizable spots I know all to well.
There are so many different types of Urban Fantasy books on the market to choose from and Anton has something very special and different with Simon Canderous. There may have not been many laugh out loud moments in Deader Still, more of a snicker here and there, but for the entertainment value I did get my money's worth.
Deader Still was an enjoyable read with a hero I can cheer for in his fight against evil.
Dead To Me