Monday, September 8, 2014

Death Warmed Over (Kevin J. Anderson)

Death Warmed Over
(The Dan Shambles, Zombie PI series, Book 1)
Kevin J. Anderson
Fiction, Fantasy
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Ever since the Big Uneasy woke ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and more, the life of New Orleans private investigator Dan Chambeaux has been a little more interesting... as has his death. First his girlfriend Sheyenne was poisoned, then Dan woke six feet under after a bullet to the head. But cases don't solve themselves, and the first thing Dan did - after crawling out of his own grave - was report back to work. With Robin, a lawyer specializing in nonhuman rights cases, and Sheyenne, the firm's ghostly new receptionist, Dan investigates cases ranging from exploited Egyptian mummies to harassed vampires... all the while hoping to catch a lead in the greatest murder of his career: his own.

REVIEW: Death Warmed Over's tongue-in-fang tone starts out on a fun note, but with some bite. New Orleans's unnatural citizens are just as messed up as any human, making for a colorful cast of characters. Unfortunately, that cast sprawls all over the city, tangled in numerous cases large and small that seem to exist primarily to distract Dan from his investigations into his own demise. The characters also lean heavily on classic PI stereotypes, sometimes with a slight supernatural twist. Once in a while, Dan proves rather dense for a private investigator, and the name of one of the characters gives away what I expect was supposed to be a major plot twist. That obvious case of telegraphing, plus an eye-rollingly blatant setup for sequels at the end, cost it the extra half-mark that the (initially) light tone almost earned it. On the whole, I've read far worse stories, but this just felt too unfocused, telling its own joke a few times too often to keep me amused to the end.

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