Bone Song by John Meaney

Bone Song (Tristopolis, #1)Bone Song by John Meaney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really glad I picked this one up. The mystery being investigated in the book is pretty standard fare, but the worldbuilding!

Meaney has created a society that runs on bones – all of the energy in Tristopolis comes from a necrofusion center where the bones of tortured souls are fuel. Bound spirits also exist in everything else: furniture, elevators, cars… you name it and there’s likely someone’s soul inhabiting it. As you might guess, some people treat those spirits better than others, like Detective Lieutenant Donal Riordan, who is friendly with the guy at HQ’s front desk – or rather the guy who is HQ’s front desk, the huge police wolves, the #7 elevator, and even zombies.

Riordan’s world is a dark one literally – the sky is always dark purple in his city – and figuratively – only the really wealthy are able to bury their dead in catacombs; everyone else is fuel. There’s the usual class divide and corruption, but now something new has been added: bone collectors. These people don’t want to wait until an artist or performer dies to bid on the memories their bones hold. Instead, they’ve created a conspiracy to kill them before their time and steal the bones.

In trying to stop them, Riordan will join a special task force headed up by a beautiful zombie, become friends with some of the most respected forensic bone listeners, and fight against powerful dark mages.

Bone Song is like Raymond Chandler was recreated using some genetic material from Brian Lumley and Tom Clancy. It’s fast moving, entertaining, and dark without noir’s usual cynicism.

I was so enthralled by the world Riordan lives in that I bought the sequel, Dark Blood the same night I finished reading Bone Song. Fascinating world, interesting characters.

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Book Review – Dead Mann Walking

Dead Mann Walking (Hessius Mann #1)Dead Mann Walking by Stefan Petrucha

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a true noir tale, only it happens to include zombies. Mann is the name of the detective and ever since he found out his wife was having an affair with his boss, his existence has been a major disappointment to him. First, his wife is murdered, then he’s arrested, convicted, and executed for it, then he gets brought back to a pseudo-life as a zombie. And zombies in this world have few rights and are nearly everyone’s favorite punching bag.

Then along comes a guy with seemingly more money than brains of his own, to hire him to find another zombie. If he wasn’t constantly forgetting what he wants to do, perhaps he would have passed on the assignment. Especially since it brings him into unsavory contact with ferals – zombies who have completely lost their minds -, liveblood perverts, a nascent zombie rights movement, and worst of all, his old colleagues on the homicide squad, including his old boss, who still thinks he killed his wife.

The story moves along at a good clip and provides plenty of noir style insight into the foibles of men, both live and undead. For a zombie, Mann is pretty good at figuring things out and retains a tenacious insistence on the truth that would bring any detective from Sam Spade to Mike Hammer to those places he would be better off out of. Mann is wryly amusing at nearly all times and is mostly aware of his own shortcomings. The other characters in this crazy quilt of an adventure are all drawn well and possessed of their own outlandish personalities.

Some of the plot was guessable, if you’re a fan of noir, but there were still plenty of twists and surprises – enough to keep the reader guessing. Hessius Mann may be beat-up, looked down upon, dead and held together with crazy glue and sewing thread, but he’s still a detective.

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