Already Dead

Already Dead - Charlie Huston Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 5
boobs: 2
bombs: 1
bondage: 3
blasphemy: 2
Bechdel Test: FAIL
Deggan's Rule: FAIL
Gay Bechdel Test: FAIL

This book kept showing up in results from the Goodreads autorecommendation tool. I put it on my TBR, and then I found an excerpt at the back of another book I finished. Initially, I wasn't excited about the book because the writing was very staccato and didn't use a very expansive vocabulary - it looked like a candidate for my small words and short sentences shelf, which is a euphemism for "young adult or otherwise poorly written". But then Carly specifically said I should read it since I think there can never be too much gore or noir in a book.

I'm glad she did. I really liked this book. I like Joe. He's a survivor and an iconoclast; he's not entirely happy about his situation (Anne Rice romanticists need not apply here) but he's making the best of a less than ideal situation and unliving his unlife on his own terms. I respect the hell out of that. While Joe would never be confused with a pacifist, he constantly grapples with the idea of "appropriate force" and the proper application thereof. This is the real antagonism in the story. Joe was never humanity's biggest fan while he was alive, and it's taken a few decades of undeath for him to come to appreciate the things that most people appreciate so easily they're taken for granted. Things like trust, loyalty, intimacy and all the other trappings of friendship and love. I felt a resonance between Joe's feelings about what he needs to do to survive with my own relationship to alcohol, actually, and this endeared me to Joe from about the second chapter onwards.

New York City is much more than a setting, it's a character in it's own right. I've been to NYC once, years ago, and I didn't like it very much. I felt it was full of dirt, litter and old buildings[1]. I feel like a lot of the backstory on NYC was skipped, and this took away from my enjoyment of the story - I feel I was expected to know the socioeconomic background between the different neighborhoods, but I don't, so I was struggling for clues to get an idea of what Joe could expect as he wandered around different parts of the city. This was really the most difficult part of the book for me, because I wanted to be as immersed in the world as Joe is.

As a mystery goes, the plot was good enough but not great. I don't really have anything to add to that that hasn't been mentioned in other reviews. I really liked the way the supernatural is handled in this world, and while Joe has some attributes that make him a little bit special, these are only alluded to and definitely don't make him into a superhero (cue sequels here...). I like the story, it was an easy read and all but one or two of the characters were fleshed out believably. The pace was excellent, it kept moving and provided lots of plot detail without bogging down on itself. The cadence was, in fact, staccato throughout the book but that's more of a function of Joe - he's not a genius and he has a touch of the OCD, so his thoughts and observations tend to be direct and to the point. There's some pretty good witticisms, not of the Felix Castor caliber, but I LOL'd more than once. The author treated the goth/rivethead and BDSM cultures well, poking at the same points I do while not treating them as some kind of freakish "other". Major points earned, right there. The kindle edition converted to epub without any issues, and had no typos or noticeable grammatical errors, and the TOC works.

I really liked this book, even if it isn't as complicated as other PI mysteries or as gory as other horror books. I think Joe is a fascinating character and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

[1] Ironically, I've since moved to the UK where everything is older and dirtier.

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.