Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: Dead to Me

Dead to Me
Simon Canderous #1
by Anton Strout

This is the first book in a series which is now three books strong (Dead Matter released in mass market paperback in February).  The series is set in New York City and follows paranormal investigator and psychic Simon Canderous.  Dead to Me is also Anton Stout’s debut novel.

There’s a quote by Charlaine Harris on the covers of the second two books: “Following Simon’s adventures is like being the pinball in an especially antic game, but its well worth the wear and tear.”  That really does sum up the first book right there.  First, Simon is a psychometric; he gets psychic visions from touching things, and he’s not in control of what he sees, or even necessarily what he reads.  The visions he gets are from someone who’s touched that object’s memory, and he follows that person through that memory.  Now this sounds cool, until you get memories of your girlfriend’s past lovers in technicolored detail.  Then it’s not so cool.

Simon works for the Department of Extraordinary Affairs, which is a secret governmental agency linked to the mayor’s office.  They investigate and police all paranormal activity in the city.  Unlike many other urban fantasies, in this one magic and that paranormal are not widely known about, and the DEA likes to keep it that way.  Simon has only been working for the DEA for a few months, and his mentor/partner is Connor, who mainly works with ghosts.  One day at the local coffee shop, they find a ghost who is thoroughly convinced she is still alive.  They take her back to their office to sit down and explain some things.  Meanwhile, the cultist movement has set up the Sectarian Defense League to grab some political power away from their ancient do-good enemies, the DEA and its parent organization.  Of course, the DEA won’t stand for evil cultists getting away with their grisly crimes even if they now have a government sanctioned lobbyist group, so they start spinning their wheels to come up with a way to legally take the League down.
There are a lot of very tightly twisted subplots in this book, and Simon certainly does drag the reader through them like an antic pinball.  Just when you think he’s about to make some real headway on one plot line, you’re speeding away to the other one, and then just as fast to the third line, and then back to the first one.  While you move very quickly through the chapters, as a whole the plot seemed slow moving to me because all resolution was pushed to the very end.  There is no slow and steady climb to the finish in this book; you’re stuck on a runaway train hanging on for dear life.

Overall, it’s not a bad book.  I’ve got the other three books here to work through, and I will read through them at some point (other more pressing books that have to be returned the library sooner will break things up a bit).  If you like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, and possibly the Cal Leandros books by Rob Thurman, you’ll likely like this book.  Simon has some of Harry Dresden’s pure bad luck, and some of Cal’s lack of self esteem (though NOT Cal’s self loathing) along with both characters’ full share of tendencies to run into situations headfirst and ill prepared.


Post a Comment