Customer Review

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining book, 29 Mar. 2008
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This review is from: Dead to Me (Mass Market Paperback)
Dead to Me is set in New York - but New York with a twist, there are ghosts, creatures and people with magical powers of various sorts. Their activities are policed by the Department of Extraordinary Affairs.

The hero of the book, Simon Canderous, works for the Department as part of the Other Division, which picks up all sorts of cases that don't fall to Divisions more specific roles like Haunts General or Greater and Lesser Arcana. Simon's special skill is psychometry, which allows him to see into the past of an object by touching it - useful in work, but a bit of a nightmare for his personal life.

Simon is firmly on the side of the angels but does have a rather shady past, which adds an interesting dimension to his character. The book is written from his first person perspective and he has an amusing and interesting voice.

The book follows Simon on his first really big case, which starts when he finds a ghost in the coffee shop that acts as a front for the Department. It becomes clear that something serious is up in New York, with Cultists with a taste for human sacrifice and a very nasty drug empire moving into the acceptable mainstream. Simon has to find out who his lovely ghost Irene was before her death and why she's so real.

Simon is a good lead character and I enjoyed following his journey. The other characters in the book are interesting, but at the end I felt that I didn't really know any of them very well or what their real motivations were. Even Connor, Simon's mentor, has moments were he gets pretty irritable with his charge and you're not quite sure where he's coming from. Jane, super-efficient PA to cultists, remains something of an enigma - it's not clear what does she really think and feel about Simon and her former employers - and I have to say that her diary entry which Simon reads was unconvincing to a teeth setting on edge degree. I did think the idea of selling your soul to cultists to get away from the horror of temping was amusing.

With this book I thought that it was largely deliberate that you are left with a sense of ambiguity about the other characters rather than it just being a side-effect of the first person narrative.

The author's written style is flowing and the action sequences were inventive and well written. I loved the concept of the Black Stacks and their very, very aggressive bookcases.

There are parts of the book where I thought the author was trying a bit too hard to be funny or to make things extraordinary. The references to training courses or leaflets with ridiculous titles like 'Witty Banter to Ease any Paranormal Situation' or 'Dealing with the Dearly Departed' started off amusing, but the joke was stretched a bit too thin by the end.

I'd recommend the book - nothing wow, but entertaining enough.
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