Sunday 28 March 2010

CBR2 Book 39: "Dead Men's Boots" by Mike Carey

Publisher: Orbit
Page count: 544 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: March 25th, 2010
Date finished: March 28th, 2010

Felix Castor is an exorcist, and lives in a world where the dead started returning from their graves a few years back, so he can make a decent living by sending the dead back to their eternal rest. Due to events in previous books, he is currently nearly broke, living in temporary accommodation and most of his old friends are not speaking to him unless they absolutely have to. He has to attend the funeral of John Gittings, another exorcist, or ghostbreaker, and feels a bit guilty, as Gittings kept trying to call him before his death, and John refused to answer his calls.

When Gittings' widow asks him for help, Castor doesn't feel he can refuse, and is shocked to realize that Gittings, normally so placid when alive, has turned poltergeist after his death. He is also contacted by a woman whose husband is accused of murder, only the murder bears all the hallmarks of an American serial killer dead for more than 40 years. The lady wants him to prove that her husband is innocent, and that the ghost of the psychotic mobster killer committed the crime instead. On top of that, he has to keep his friend's demon-possessed body from being released into the custody of a ruthless scientist, and keep from getting killed by persons unknown.

I borrowed the first Felix Castor novels off a friend several years ago, and while they didn't exactly wow me, they were entertaining enough. My favourite character in the books is not Castor himself, who reminds me far too much of another character Mike Carey wrote (but doesn't own the right to), a Mr. John Constantine, of Hellblazer (Vertigo comic) or Constantine (dubious movie starring Keanu Reeves) fame. I also keep mentally comparing him to Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, although the similarities are mainly that they are both male, both deal in the supernatural, and are rather sarcastic. No, the main reason I like these books is for the supporting character of Juliet, a succubus who tried to kill Felix in the first book, and has since decided to turn to ghostbreaking herself. She is not a very complex character, but is an interesting addition to the books, and entertains me greatly. She's also ruthlessly efficient in a fight, and I always liked women who could kick ass and dole out violence like a pro.

This book has been lying on my bookshelf gathering dust for at least a year and a half, and I don't know why I didn't get around to reading it sooner. It was a bit slow going for the first hundred pages or so, but then the plot started to thicken, mysterious people tried to kill Felix and I found that it was hard to put the book down. The plot is probably the most convoluted of the three books so far, but it comes together nicely in the end. Based on this book, I will probably be reading at least the next Felix Castor book, if not both, and I may not wait another year or so before picking one up.

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