Book Review: Death Warmed Over

Amazon Cover - Death Warmed Over

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Death Warmed Over (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI Book 1) by Kevin J. Anderson

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Ever since the Big Uneasy unleashed vampires, werewolves, and other undead denizens on the world, it’s been hell being a detective—especially for zombie PI Dan Chambeaux. Taking on the creepiest of cases in the Unnatural Quarter with a human lawyer for a partner and a ghost for a girlfriend, Chambeaux redefines “dead on arrival.” But just because he was murdered doesn’t mean he’d leave his clients in the lurch. Besides, zombies are so good at lurching.

Now he’s back from the dead and back in business—with a caseload that’s downright unnatural. A resurrected mummy is suing the museum that put him on display. Two witches, victims of a curse gone terribly wrong, seek restitution from a publisher for not using “spell check” on its magical tomes. And he’s got to figure out a very personal question: who killed him?

For Dan Chambeaux, it’s all in a day’s work. (Still, does everybody have to call him “Shamble”?) Funny, fresh, and irresistible, this cadaverous caper puts the PI in RIP … with a vengeance.

 

MY REVIEW

A typical urban fantasy detective – the twist on this one is the PI is a Zombie and one of his cases is investigating his own death.

What I loved about the story: This PI doesn’t work just one case, but a dozen cases at a time. He isn’t a down-and-out Noir PI trying to climb into or out of a bottle. He just happens to have been killed recently. Other than that, he has a good set of friends, a solid job, and a smart girlfriend. Unlife promises to be as good as living had been.

With the dozen or so cases, Mr. Anderson doesn’t need to create false trails and red herrings. There is so much going on, of course Dan Chambeaux has a time uncovering the big bad’s case since he also has to work on all the other cases which pay the bills. I think this particular aspect of the story is more real than most detective stories I have read.

What I didn’t like about the story: Several times the author repeats information from the chapter before. About 1/6th of the book is repeats. Now in order to do the investigation, the PI does have to review the evidence to see if he is missing anything. Sometimes going over the information with friends lets him see the problem from a different perspective. If I was editing the book, I would recommend cutting about half of the repeats.

The chapter endings usually complete a mini-story within one of the PI’s cases, which makes picking up and putting down the book easy. If you read about 2 to 3 chapters at a time during a commute or between errands, the repeats may not bother you at all. I tend to swallow books whole – in this case I bought and finished the book the same day.

Overall a good story and solid start to a new series. Also works fine as a stand-alone.

Book Review: I, Zombie

Amazon Cover - I Zombie

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* Someone is Murdering the Dead. *

I, Zombie by Doris Piserchia under the pen name of Curtis Shelby

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When the girl from the asylum drowned in the lake that night, she thought it was the end of her life, but she was wrong.

With robots at fifty thousand dollars a unit, it was far more economical to use corpse labour – all it took was a two-thousand dollar animating pack in the brain, and a zombie worker, under the direction of a helmeted controller, could do just about anything except think.

Or so everyone said. But in the zombie dorms at night, with only the walking dead for roommates, things were not as they should have been. The girl from the asylum seemed to have more mental ability, not less, and someone was trying to kill her. Kill a dead girl?

Maybe there was more to heaven than an afterlife of manual labour in the company of a bunch of stiffs!

 

MY REVIEW

One of my favorite books of all time, I don’t know how many times I have read it. Picked it up back when it was first released in 1982 at an airport to keep from getting bored on a plane. (now available on kindle – yeah! … because my original paperback is Beat Up(tm).)

Interesting psychological study. Pretty cool worldbuilding with the Frogs and the Zombies (deceased humans with brain packs to work them). Actually excellent worldbuilding, the layers to the Zombies and the world trying to translate that over to the mentally disturbed. Layers upon layers with the brain pack technology and the Frog culture.

Then the action adventure with fights in front of a furnace and problem-solving mysteries with someone murdering the dead and the ice world melting, keeps everything moving at a fast pace.

This book is one of my happy places.

NOTE: Curt Selby is the pen name of Doris Piserchia, so “Curt Shelby” appears on the cover but you will now find the book under Doris Pierchia’s real name for the kindle.

Flash: Diamonds HIding

Clip Art

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The diamonds fell from her hands, scattering like stars in the night across the black marble. And as uncaring as the cold stars looking on from the sky, they reflected her falling, winked red as blood pooled out, and hid in the shadows when daylight came.

***

Younger did not know why he was here. The cops never called him. Yet this time they did.

DJ and Jeffery grunted greeting as they lifted the police tape. He nodded to the officers, debating talking to them. Spotting the detectives, he decided against it. Lance and Paul were assholes. Which made him being called in even more strange.

Not his normal strange, but the WTF?!? strange you get when your mom compliments your death metal tattoo.

Though he knew if those two called him in … his normal strange would be happening soon enough.

(words 141 – first published 5/1/2013; republished in new blog format on 4/2/2017)

Book Review: Prime Suspects

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Prime Suspects by Jim Berheimer

Homicide detective David Bagini awakens on a strange world only to discover he is, in fact, the forty-second clone of the Bagini line. Having no memories of why his Prime entered into a clone contract, he wants answers.

The first problem is his Prime has been murdered and Bagini Forty-Two is now in charge of the investigation.

The second problem is all the clues point at one of his fellow clones and they already know all his tricks.

How can he solve his own murder when all the suspects have his name and face?

 

MY REVIEW

**At last, something to go with Caves of Steel on my shelves**

Prime Suspects secures a place alongside Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov in the sci-fi-mystery genre. An extremely well-done mix, mingling the police procedural and the science fiction in equal parts. Keeps one guessing to the end, but provides all the clues. A reader is right beside the detective gathering the clues and learning the world until only one possibility is left.

Jim Bernheimer‘s trademark snarky main character gets a little old in this particular book because, well, it is the distinguishing characteristic of so many of the characters, an inherent aspect of a clone story. I am pleased to see the clones remain close in personality, yet each develops as a unique person as well. The delightful comedic snarkiness of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain takes on a Noir overtone in this novel.

Worldbuilding – Oh, the sociological worldbuilding in this story is absolutely awesome. Identical twins raised apart will each develop along similar patterns; identical twins raised together will deliberately work to differentiate themselves through dress, hair and hobbies. Prime Suspects’ world shows what happens when an individualistic person suddenly is faced with dozens of twins.

And Jim takes the worldbuilding to a second level. For psychology – the struggle for ego in the detectives is worse than the waitresses because the police must work closely together instead of in isolated restaurants. For sociology – In a society without children and without elders, rampant college behavior dominates as the clones struggle to define themselves. For Social-Psychology – In a world without advancement or dreams, the clones face years of therapy, depression, and escapism.

Prime Suspects works well a police procedural, and the mystery is solid. But the story truly shines as a science fiction speculation about how a clone society might function.

(bought at a Convention from author’s booth at full price)

Flash: Worth the Risk

Cup Of Coffee Stock Photo

Image Courtesy of Carlos Porto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The bell attached to the doorsill rang as yet another stranger entered the busy coffee shop. Shirley eyes were drawn irresistibly to evaluate the new entrant. She really hoped this was worth the risk she had taken. The most recent arrival was a teenager who had no business being in a coffee shop except as an employee.

Frank had come across her on Facebook a year ago today. On the anniversary of the contact, they were going to meet again for the first time. His wife had died of cancer a while ago, so his long-distance electronic support when her husband died a few months back was exactly perfect.

The bell chimed again and this time it was Frank. Less hair than before, but the trim frame built for track and soccer matched the pictures on his Timeline. People can lie so easily on the web, she sighed into her coffee to see he was as handsome as she remembered.

His brown eyes scanned the room. They settled on each single occupant table for a moment before coming to rest on her. He mouthed “Hello” like they used to do in high school when they dated. After placing his order, Frank came over to join her.

An hour of laughter and earnest talk followed. Then he walked her to her car and kissed her hand, saying goodbye for now. Starting her Cadillac, Shirley made her way back to the Interstate. Definitely worth, the risk, she thought to herself.

Her husband had been a fat, lazy coach potato so no autopsy was done after his apparent heart attack. With his body cremated and ashes scatted, no one would ever know better. Frank might end up being a disappointment, but it was worth the risk to try to find love again.

(299 words – first published 11/21/2012; republished new blog format 8/7/2016)