Simon Canderous has a double edge sword of a talent, psychometry. Psychometry is the unique ability to divine information about the history of an object through touch. Formerly a petty thief Simon answers a cryptic newspaper ad and becomes a new employee for N.Y. City’s Department of Extraordinary Affairs. The D.E.A. is on the side of Good. Our young protagonist takes his new position seriously. He views good versus evil the same as black versus white.
Simon struggles with learning the aspects of a real job, office politics and other-worldly skills. His mentor, Connor, specializes in ghosts and points out a lovely young woman sitting across from them in a coffee shop. Because she has not moved on they interview her trying to determine why she is still here. The ghost has no memories but she says something cryptic about the movie Apocalypse Now. This suddenly makes her a priority case though why is not clear.
As Simon and Connor work to discover information about Irene they stumble across the Sectarian Defense League. The SDL is a cultist rights movement legalized by the city as part of equal rights movement. A kerfuffle ensues and the Mayor’s liaison arranges a meeting between the D.E.A. and the SDL. Simon is sent and meets Jane for dinner. Jane is the personal assistant to the evil Faisal Bane, chairman of the SDL. Simon is attracted to Jane but conflicted because she works on the side of darkness. Simon’s investigation leads him zombies, ghost sniffing drug addicts and other forces of darkness.
Dead to Me is light urban fantasy. Fans of the Dresden Files will in all likelihood enjoy this book. Author Strout has four Simon Canderous books published to date, obviously the series had potential. But this book is a bit uneven, the characters under-developed and the action come across as a series of confrontations from an outline. The humor in the book seems thrown arbitrarily. I am not saying it isn’t funny rather the characters aren’t funny.
Examples: “Are you implying you had someone murdered? The Mayor’s Office does not condone that sort of conflict resolution.” And
“A lot of people who have come to work for us over the years have come to us from …. shall we say suspect backgrounds. Involvement with the dark arts, telemarketing and worse.”
The first chapters of the book introduce the reader to Simon and his motivations. The writing could have been tighter. The book came out in 2008 and I started to read it but wasn’t engaged. It sat in my TBR pile for 5 years. Simon is a likeable, hot-headed but good intentioned, 24-year-old man. The secondary characters are interesting. However sometimes the story gets ridiculous. When Simon wants to learn if Jane really a bad guy, he reads her diary. Her diary that she was writing in a chick lit voice when she was on a rooftop spying on him and having been sent to kill him.
I did like reading the book and may give the second book a try. I can’t rate this book a 5 but if you want light urban fantasy this is definitely worth a try.
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Ace (February 26, 2008)
Ratings 1 – 5
• Readability: 3.5
• Likability: 3.5
• Recommended: 3
• Book Club Read: 0
• Author Watch List: 2
• Laugh Meter: 32
• Cry Meter: 0
• Three Word Description: Light Urban Fantasy