- Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Ace Books (26 Feb. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441015786
- ISBN-13: 978-0441015788
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.5 x 17 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,393,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Dead to Me Mass Market Paperback – 26 Feb 2008
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"Simon Canderous is a reformed thief and a psychometrist. By turns despondent over his luck with the ladies (not always living) and his struggle with the hierarchy of his mysterious department (not always truthful), Simon's life veers from crisis to crisis. Following Simon's adventures is like being the pinball in an especially antic game, but it's well worth the wear and tear."
- Kelly McCullough, author of Cybermancy, Webmage and Codespell "Part Ghostbusters, part Men-in-Black, StroutAEs debut is both dark and funny, with quirky characters, an eminently likable protagonist, and the comfortable, familiar voice of a close friend. His mix of (mostly) secret bureaucratic bickering and offbeat action shows New York like weAEve never seen it before. Make room on the shelf, AEcause youAEre going to want to keep this one!"
-Rachel Vincent, author of Stray and Rogue
About the Author
Anton Strout is the author of the Spellmason Chronicles and the Simon Canderous series. He was born in the Berkshire Hills, mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. He currently lives in historic Jackson Heights, New York (where nothing paranormal ever really happens, he assures you). In his scant spare time, he is an always writer, a sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the world's most casual and controller-smashing video gamer. He currently works in the exciting world of publishing and, yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.
Top customer reviews
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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.
This is light urban fantasy; we don't get terribly deep character development, or great complexity, and the Department of Extraordinary Affairs (DEA) where the protagonist (Simon Canderous) works is played for laughs. It's a caricature of the red-tape-bound government agency; the humour coming from the juxtaposition of the almost uber-normal and the weird. Simon has to contend with lots of form-filling in triplicate and the kind of training-courses that we all have to suffer through, but he's also expected to put his life on the line fighting against homicidal ghosts and human-sacrificing cultists.
Simon's a guy who has a paranormal ability that has been useful in a life of petty crime and disastrous to his love-life, and now he's decided to go straight, he's relieved to find a job where it's actually an asset and he might learn to control it. In this book, he's still very much a newbie, and one who's been rather chucked in the deep end at that. Unlike many urban fantasy protagonists, he's not amazingly powerful - his ability is to read the history of objects when he touches them; excellent for giving you an unwanted look at whoever your girlfriend was with last, but not great in the self-defence stakes. His position is that he's very much a low-level operative having to deal with stuff he's neither trained nor equipped for. It gives an interesting new spin to the urban fantasy novel where we have rather too many kick-ass heroines with near-super-powers, and arrogance to match. Simon's out of his depth and he knows it.
Since the DEA is played for laughs, it isn't entirely believable - it's just a little too exaggerated - so this book is what you might reach for if you don't really want to think too hard, or be put through the emotional wringer too much. But it's still a book worth reaching for, and, having reached for it and read it, I shall now proceed to read the next in the series.
I would recommend this book to anybody I even recommened it to my mum yesterday.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I'll be paying Simon another visit. I just won't be shaking his hand ... unless he's wearing his gloves.
Canderous, made me nervous because I never knew what he was going to say or do next. He was a very likeable good guy but very impulsive.
Simon meets two very attractive women but, unfortunately, one is dead and the other is on the side of evil. The dead woman doesn't know she is dead and has no memory of her life. Simon sets out to help her so her ghost can cross over or whatever it is ghosts do. This leads to all sorts of danger for Simon and good reading for us. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
But he makes a few really bad mistakes and I lose my respect for him a little at a time. He does redeem himself by saving the beautiful ghost and his partner. But at times I felt like I was going up and down on a roller coaster... I really wanted to like it. I still like parts of it.
What I didn't like was the death of the girlfriend. So leaving messages on the phone is a death sentence???? Come on. Do something different to her... really.
Good parts.... (I liked some of the funny quirky parts, like when his counterpart falls from the roof). Bad parts: I am not sure the writer (Stout) truly understand the dynamics between the division heads of the Department of Extraordinary Affairs. I worked in and around a few government offices and he just didn't get it right. I can't put a finger on it.
Anyway, I want to see Anton Strout do better. I will look for his next book.