Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore is a supernatural noir novel set in Los Angeles about a necromancer hunting his sister’s killer (available February 5, 2013).
In 2012, Stephen Blackmoore burst onto the scene with his supernatural noir City of the Lost, featuring the rough and tumble Joe Sunday. Now he’s back with Dead Things, the story of Eric Carter, a powerful necromancer who’s haunted not only by the ghosts he sees on a daily basis, but also by his own past. He’s just finished the takedown of a killer who cheated death and is using voodoo mojo to commit heinous crimes when he gets a call from an old friend. Carter’s sister, Lucy, is dead, and Carter knows he must get to the bottom of it, but when he visits the crime scene, he finds out that her death was only a tool to get his attention. As he heads out find answers, he thinks about the sister he hasn’t seen in fifteen years, and about her place in a family of powerful mages.
Lucy could barely manipulate a coin toss. That puts her ahead of most people with talent, but still at the bottom tier.
I wouldn’t say she was a disappointment to our parents, but she was the black sheep. Mom and Dad had magic to spare. Some of it got to me. Almost none of it went to Lucy. She practiced relentlessly. Kept telling me that one of these days she’d get that coin toss down pat and show me. She never did.
Even as Carter pursues vengeance for his sister’s death, he constantly struggles with the pain of his parents’ deaths and his guilt over not being there for his little sister.
Nobody teaches kids how to mourn. Everything churns together and you don’t know which way is up. Sadness and anger and regret all ball up together in knots. I should have taken care of her and protected her and sat with her while she cried for our parents. I should have been an older brother, the grown-up, the strong one.
Instead, I lost my mind.
Carter hunted down the man who killed his parents, but it never served to quell his pain or his guilt. When he’s approached by Santa Muerte, the patron saint of violent death, she promises answers about his sister, for a price, of course. Carter is no stranger to killing, but puts it thus:
“I don’t have anything against killing,” I say. And I don’t, not really. With powers like mine, my relationship with death isn’t exactly the same as everybody else’s.
“But murder’s never really at the top of my list.”
As Carter continues his search for his sister’s killer, his past stays hot on his heels. He hasn’t seen his best friend Alex, or his ex-girlfriend, Vivian, for fifteen years , but he’s been drawn back into their circle, and may even need their help. He was an angry young man, and that anger has followed him, providing fuel for the magic that he uses to exterminate all manner of supernatural baddies.
Dead Things is a gritty trip into a haunted L.A., shot through with a healthy helping of noir, but it’s also the story of a man who has never looked back and is forced to confront the life that he left behind in order to find a killer. Carter is a troubled man, and his inner struggle with the ghosts of his past is highlighted by the very real ghosts that seek him out, and would devour him if given half a chance. Literally.
Wanderers from miles around burst into the room, eyeing the cup, licking their lips. A seething mass of stab wounds, suicides, bullet holes. Forty or fifty of them, it seems like. Hard to tell with them all crammed into the room, flowing in and out of each other in a blur of limbs and faces.
They yammer for a taste of the blood, for a lick of life. Please, please, please. Some tiny reminder of what it’s like to be breathing. Pathetic faces stare at me like the orphans in Oliver Twist.
It’s easy to forget how dangerous they are. Seeing them is one thing, but this is different. I’ve thinned out the barrier between worlds. Given half the chance, they’d eat me.
Readers who like their crime noir heaped with a healthy dose of the supernatural will enjoy Dead Things, but it’s much more than action and monster killing on the gritty streets of L.A. It’s the story of a man whose power is great, but whose inner pain and turmoil makes him constantly question how he will wield it. When those he loves are drawn further and further into danger, how he chooses to handle things will mean much more than just life and death. It could cost him his soul.
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