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Graves' End: A Magical Thriller (a Temple Tree & Tower novel) Kindle Edition
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What isn't clear is the fact that the book is witty, full of sly little digs and bits, and cheerfully energetic. I was taken by the first few chapters - they were elegant and creepy. When skeleton detective Dexter Graves was introduced I began to get a bit concerned, because his arrival was a little jokey and a little underwritten. Was this book going to lose its way and sharpness and just peter out or get silly? Nope. My concern was unjustified. Once Graves gets himself established as a central character and hooks up with the heroine, and once we get all of the remaining necessary exposition out of the way, the book really takes off.
But slam-bang action never takes over. The book stays witty, imaginative and, somehow, good humored, right up to the epilogue. I liked the characters. I liked the plot. I liked the treatment of L.A. I mean, what goes better with a noir thriller than a Day of the Dead theme? It helps that all of the magic and myth and spells and otherworldly creatures fit so seamlessly into the plot and the action that it all feels plausible and real.
So, if you want a well-written, tightly crafted classic noir, with horror/myth/magic elements that enhance but don't overwhelm the story, this is worth a serious look.
Please note that I found this book while browsing kindleunlimited freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
This is a modern fantasy which has a flavour of the metaphysical games played by Tim Powers in his Last Call and Earthquake Weather novels.
Rush out and buy it.... NOW!
When Dexter digs himself out of the ground (scaring a cleaner in the process) he has to find out why he is back and just what the King of the Dead plans with young witch Lia.
It reads very well, moves fluidly and never loses the sense of humour.
Well worth the read.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The story is divided into various parts, each part having a retrospective which dates backward about a century and which is utilized to assist the reader in understanding where / what either Dexter Graves or Tomas Delgado have been / done. There are some awkwardly read sentences and a few minor grammar issues, but they do nothing to detract from the material.
Part 1 - Halloween Night (Oct 31)
Camilla Flores is commissioned by one Ingrid Redstone to find what is left of her `brother' at his last known location. In searching the premises she finds a lighter, an old Navy insignia embossed lighter. At this point we are also introduced to Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec king of the dead and his enforcers the Tzitzimime (agglomerations of bugs which ultimately form an ant, a mantis and a wasp). The hunt for Lia and her silent ghostly partner (who oft times uses a cats body to harbor his being), Black Tom (surname: Delgado).
Retrospective 1 (1950)
We meet a fleshly composed Dexter Graves. Having also been commissioned by Ingrid to find Michael Caradura (Mickey Hardface), he succeeds in finding his location, but is mysteriously and sorrowfully murdered by Ingrid as she ballistically removes his cortex from the front side of his head.
Part 2 - All Saints Day (Nov 1)
Dexter returns as an animated corpse (just a skeleton, really) and finds Lia through the beckoning of his long lost lighter. He is soon trapped by Lia, magically, when he loses his cool and becomes a bit unpredictable. We are also introduced to two of Mictlantecuhtli's Greek pets - Nyx, the goddess of night and Lyssa, the goddess of madness. Mictlantecuhtli has essentially usurped all other after life deities as the supreme, hence his ability to command the gods / goddesses of other cultures. In this segment we see a lot of rudimentary magic use: Pi-trails, incandescent eyes and even some technomancing.
Retrospective 2 (1910)
This segment offers a history of `the hole in the sky' from the perspective of Tomas Delgado, the destruction of the great tree and the subsequent building of a giant skyscraper where the tree used to be. This is reportedly for Mictlantecuhtli's girlfriend, the Red Witch... Ingrid Redstone.
Part 3 - All Souls Day, Morning (Nov 2)
The battle rages on. Mictlantecuhtli sends his hit men, Tzitzimime, Lyssa and Nyx to find Black Tom, Lia, Dexter, Hannah and whomever else they might be involved with. Of most interest is the trapping of Nyx as Lia uses her elemental magic to plant a tree through her head, staking her to the ground and rendering her influential to the fight.
Retrospective 3 (1910)
Delgado is to cross the barrier to Mictlan and assume Mictlantecuhtli's role while he then assumes his flesh and walks the earth - something he has never been able to do. Delgado bails on the deal by sending his soul out to a body, any body, any vessel so as to avoid entrapment in Mictlan. There is also further elaboration upon the construction of the skyscraper and Ingrid's abilities.
Part 4 - All Souls Day, Afternoon
We meet a bunch of ancillary characters with associations to Lia. And Tom's cat body is kidnapped and is hexed so that he can't re-enter it to assist.
Retrospective 4 (1910)
Further elaboration upon the plot-point started in Retrospective 3.
Part 5 - Dia de Los Muertos
In this final segment we encounter some new characters - the Blackdogs, an elite police force beckoned to help Lia. This is also the closing scenes of the battle for earth's plane. There are multiple deaths, most of the heroic and at least one that's very graphic and not so much heroic. We also see that Ingrid begins to empathize with Lia and the two hatch a plan to shut down Mictlantecuhtli. Amongst other revelations is the fact that Dexter is the offspring of Ingrid and Mictlantecuhtli, making him at least a demi-god. Having this information, Graves commands the denizens of Mictlan to walk the earth (as they're able because it's still November 2). In the vigorous swell of eagerness Mictlantecuhtli is swept through the chamber doors and out into the real world, Ingrid usurps him as ruler and will `deal with him later'. Ends somewhat awkwardly with Lia and Dexter hooking up. But since she's about 25 and he, physically, 35, it's not too weird.
The book follows the story of Lia, a witch living in modern day LA, who gets mixed up with Dexter Grave, a skeleton visiting from 1950. Along with Lia extremely unusual cat, they battle bug monsters, cast spells and turn night to day, all in the hopes of thwarting the King of Death's malevolent plans.
If that sounds like a busy and convoluted plot, it assuredly is. But it's also loads of fun and filled with quirky characters. Lia is sweet and deceptively fierce. Dexter has a heart if gold and balls of solid brass. Lia's father/daughter relationship with Tom is adorable.
I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys The Dresden Files.
A dead man returns to life, except he's a walking skeleton, literally, but he doesn't know why he's up and walking. He was killed after being hired to help a 'dame in distress' and as all fans of noir know those things never turn out well. After he awakens from the big sleep he meets up with the protagonist a young Wiccan and her boss and things only get stranger from there.
I had some questions, when I finished the book, about things that happened (sorry no spoilers) and I'm happy to say Traver will be dealing with those in a forthcoming sequel.
So get this book now (it seems it was also published in paperback), and be ready for the next installment.