Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Book Review: DEAD THINGS, by Stephen Blackmoore

Stephen Blackmoore
Daw Books, 2013
295 pages
Fantasy / Crime / Noir

I love fantasy novels. And I love mystery novels, but I prefer they be gritty, dark, and the more intense the better. Because I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, and R.S. Belcher's Laytham Ballard (and hell, even John Constantine from the move / TV show Constantine), I am always on the lookout for books, authors, who can combine fantasy with noir, private eye main characters. Guess what? Stephen Blackmoore and his main character Eric Carter fit the bill. Man, do they!

In DEAD THINGS, Eric Carter is a pretty well known necromancer. An Exterminator of ghosts, demons, and gremlins. He kills them for a living. He talks with the dead. The dead follow him around. They all have a story, and constantly pestering Carter is as much a curse as it is a skill. Problem is, in his line of work, putting the ones he loves in danger comes with the territory. This is partly why years ago he fled his home town in L.A. He didn't want to put the lives of family and friends in jeopardy.

Well, there is that, and the fact that after he killed the head mob honcho, Jean Boudreau, the warning was clear. Get out of town or your family will suffer the consequences. So it was a pretty direct threat. And despite all of his magic, and power, running is also sometimes as good an idea as staying and fighting. Sometimes. But Carter ran.

It is the vicious murder of his kid sister Lucy that brings him back to town. He wants answers. Police have nothing. And clearly a dark force was behind the attack. While the more things change, the more they stay the same, Carter calls on old friends, and ex-loves for help. Tension between him and each of them is high. Resentment, feelings of abandonment, and lack of trust swell between them like concrete walls.

Getting results requires Carter to make matrimonial deals that bind his soul. It seems worth it at the time. Whoever killed his sister isn't done. Her death was committed specifically for one reason. The closer to that answer Carter gets, the more danger he puts everyone in!

An absolutely amazing book. Aside from characters, the supporting cast is so-well developed, I feel like I just watched a movie. I saw every scene in my head while I read. Clear. Vivid. Colorful. The magic is intricate, and bound by rules. The world-building is concise and defined. The pace is just faster than a constant pant in an attempt at catching your breath. And then before I knew it, I was done with the story! Once more, an absolutely amazing book. (Thankfully, this is book one in three --so far. Not to rub it in, but guess what? I have books 2, and 3 in queue)!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy

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