Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore
Series: Eric Carter #1
Necromancer is such an ugly word, but it’s a title Eric Carter is stuck with.
He sees ghosts, talks to the dead. He’s turned it into a lucrative career putting troublesome spirits to rest, sometimes taking on even more dangerous things. For a fee, of course.
When he left LA fifteen years ago, he thought he’d never go back. Too many bad memories. Too many people trying to kill him.
But now his sister’s been brutally murdered and Carter wants to find out why.
Was it the gangster looking to settle a score? The ghost of a mage he killed the night he left town? Maybe it’s the patrion saint of violent death herself, Santa Muerte, who’s taken an unusually keen interest in him.
Carter’s going to find out who did it, and he’s going to make them pay.
As long as they don’t kill him first.
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[Admin note: Sorry for the late post. I’ve been swamped with work so I wrote it on the train to London. I’m heading to the capital for some quality time with the British Library and a public lecture. Who knows how to have an exciting weekend?]
If I had to keep it short and sweet, I’d just say: DEAD THINGS is the tits!
If you have a bit more time to read, here’s why. DEAD THINGS is a very cool entry into urban fantasy, bringing us a necromancer unlike the others that populate the literature. Eric Carter is a man without a home, voluntarily exiled from Los Angeles to keep his sister alive. He’s been roaming for 15 years, talking to ghosts, banishing them, killing when necessary, living completely off the grid. He’s covered in tattoos that help him in some way — protection, spellcasting, etc. (even he can’t remember what they all do) — and he’s got a little bit of reluctant hero vibe. He’s capable of noble deeds — after all, he left LA to keep his sister Lucy safe and he does a fair bit of smiting — but he’s also a loner with a lot of emotional baggage. He literally has no physical baggage since he’s a vagabond by choice, which was quite interesting because his lifestyle reminds me a lot of what you see in post-apocalyptic stories, where people don’t have many possessions because they’re so focused on survival.
Of course, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if Eric was just running around doing a case of the week so Blackmoore drags him back to LA by killing Lucy. No one in LA can figure out what happened but Eric’s gifts make him the man for the job. Plus, he has no one left to protect now that Lucy is dead so there’s less keeping him out of the city. The mysteries of who killed Lucy and why Lucy was killed were unpredictable and well motivated so you know I loved that aspect of the story.
The world building is also outstanding in DEAD THINGS. Blackmoore draws on various mythologies to populate his world. Eric interacts with a range of deities/supernaturals including Baron Samedi and the Aztec goddess Santa Muerte. Like my fave Kevin Hearne, Blackmoore isn’t restricted to a particular pantheon; instead, everything seems to be fair game in Eric Carter’s world. I love it when authors do this because it means the possibilities are so broad. Many of Eric’s key interactions in DEAD THINGS are with Santa Muerte but there are also ghosts of people he killed, gangsters, and more to keep him busy in between his encounters with Santa Muerte.
The book ends with a very interesting revelation and I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.