Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick & Dirty Reviews: Two Entertaining Reads

In book two of the Death Works series, hero Steven de Selby has stepped into the job of Mortmax Industries' Australian Regional Manager, aka Death.  Steven never wanted the job, happy to tred water as a psychopomp but due to the catastrophic events in book one, his only choice was to sink or swim.  He chose to swim but despite the rebuilding of the company that must be done, Steven continues his slacker ways.  Though snarky and entertaining at times, I got to the point where I wanted him to start acting a little more responsible. Especially since there are new threats to not only the company but the entire world, plus once again someone is trying to kill Steven. As in the first book, the romantic relationship between Steven and Lissa is somewhat underwhelming, especially since this is supposed to be a death defying love.  I’m not sure what these two see in each other… besides the fact that Steven finds Lissa hot.  And I have no idea what she sees in him.  Which isn’t to say that Steven is hateful; he just doesn’t seem all that bright.  He is often amusing though, so he’s got that going for him and I do enjoy Jamieson’s take on the business of death, from its corporate structure to the nuts and bolts of ushering the recently deceased to their final resting place.  It’s a flawed but fun and original read.  If you haven't read Death Most Definite, start there before reading this book.  While this book can work as a stand alone, you'll get much more out of it if you read the proceeding book.  
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A rollicking, occasionally lurid, adventure yarn with a plethora of action, explosions and gadgets.  To some extent, it reads like a movie.  With some nice use of language and grandiose settings, this is an entertaining read that in some ways feels familiar, evoking comparison to television’s The Wild Wild West and The Avengers.  In particular, the dynamic between the two leads, Books and Braun, is reminiscent of Steed and Mrs. Peel, a give and take between two people of opposite character that is spotted with sophisticated banter.   As agents of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, the two are forced to work together to protect the British empire from the nefarious Phoenix Society.  What makes the pairing unique is that the intellectual, orderly, prim inventor is the man while the woman is the bold, take charge, guns a blazin’ colonial.  Though there is some slight romantic tension, this is essentially a period adventure smorgasborg – with secret societies, megalomaniacal madmen, last minutes rescues, fisticuffs, contraptions, and sword fights (at the opera, no less.)  There is even a villainous orgy – one of the few outright missteps in the novel. 
With all that, why am I only giving the book a B?  Well, as much as I enjoyed all the individual elements of this tale, it didn’t quite gel for me as a whole.  To be honest, I’m not sure why.  Intellectually the book was exciting but I never hooked into emotionally.  I had no problem setting the book down for a spell and I was in no rush to get back to it.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be reading the next book in the series,  currently being written.  As a first book in a new series, I’m more than happy to overlook my little nigglings.  There is a lot of potential here.
Obtained: via    

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