Every time I go to a big city (I classify big cities as any city larger than Cairns, so that would be most of them) I like to cruise the bookstores to see if I can find books I’ve never heard of that might be good to try out. Lately I’ve barely had time to read them, in fact there are approximately 62 actual physical books in my to be read pile – unless my daughter has eaten a few. She’s been known to do that, particularly if they have pictures that look like food on them. However, while in Adelaide the past four weeks I was able to purchase quite a few books and even had time to read them. One such book was Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson.
I’m sorry this isn’t much of a review, but I don’t really like traditional reviews that critique structure, word choices and allegories. I’d feel a bit wanky if I wrote a review that way. In my head a review serves the purpose to tell others what they did or didn’t enjoy about something. I’ll leave the critiquing to the editors and critics. I liked the book so I want to share why.
I will admit I was moderately curious about the book, the first in a series of three, but reluctant to purchase it given the last two slightly supernatural-ish books I’d bought I’d absolutely hated (but I won’t go into that). The blurb aroused my curiosity though and because I have a soft spot for Terry Pratchett’s Mort and I was able to get all three books in an omnibus edition for a decent price, I thought why the hell not.
Turns out I was pleasantly surprised. The first and greatest surprise was that the book was set in Brisbane. I lived in Brisbane for many years and am setting one of my own books in Brisbane. It was a genuine treat to read a book set in an Australian city and especially an Australian city that isn’t Sydney or Melbourne. I loved the local references, particularly to The Paddo as my best friend worked there as a karaoke hostess for years and I would usually go and hang out with her while she worked. I am also quite a visual reader so having familiarity with the setting made it just that extra bit richer and more enjoyable.
The second surprise was that the main character, Steven de Selby, was actually a likable person. Referring to the paranormal genre in general for a moment – 90% of protagonists are insufferable, arrogant and full of their own self importance and/or real/imagined sex appeal. Steven is just a guy, a guy who gets thrust into a hairy and scary situation and has absolutely no clue where to go or what to do to get out of it. Despite working for Death and having some inclination of the afterlife he’s not too keen on being killed and the story follows him being hunted down and actively trying to not get dead. It’s a good story.
It’s Death with a difference. A corporate death, if you will, since death in this story is an actual legitimate (ish) business. It’s a fresh and interesting take on stories about the afterlife and all in all I did quite enjoy it. One day, I might even get time to finish the second book.