Dead Men's Boots

Dead Men's Boots  - Mike Carey Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 3
boobs: 1
bombs: 1
bondage: 2
blasphemy: 4
Bechdel Test: PASS
Deggan's Rule: FAIL
Gay Bechdel Test: PASS

When I finished the previous book in this series, I was disappointed that Felix didn't grow very much. Having now read the third installment, I forgive Mr. Carey for his earlier transgressions and applaud the way he rescued the series. Felix is becoming a proper heavy-hitter in the corner of this alternate London concerned with animated post-mortem kerfuffles, and as such he's attracting more attention from some bigger heavies. Not to say Felix has gotten over himself and he's come to appreciate the people around him who save him from himself regularly, but he certainly does come to realize how often his sanity and survival are made possible by his friends and allies. He even starts to show real twinges of conscience, but even by the end of this book he isn't too ready to listen to that tiny voice of goodwill he's worked so hard to bury.

I wouldn't recommend this book as a place to start the series. Interested readers should definitely start with the first book and work through them sequentially. While we're on the subject, there's not a whole lot that's new regarding setting, characterization, voicing and all the other technical elements of a novel. If you liked the mood, tone, style and pace of the first two books you'll like this one too. It's another finely crafted whodunnit. Unlike the previous books, Felix finds himself embroiled in a number of disaparate situations that turn out to be related via root cause, though thankfully it's not nearly as predictable as the second book's scenario. The mystery progresses along in typical Felix fashion - by alternately threatening violence, guiling his friends and allies and getting beat up regularly he starts to piece together a conspiracy so large he and Juliet had to travel to the US to get some of the clues. All the while, as Felix follows his obsessions and twisted moral compass, he uses up nearly all his remaining cachet and is increasingly forced to come to grips with the selfish way he's lived his life.

This installment of the series feels like it puts Felix's internal life first and foremost, reflected in the way his relationships are changing. While the whodunnit was better than most in the genre, it's not as good as the first story and ultimately concludes with a monologue with the antagonist driving the whole conspiracy. Fortunately, it didn't sink to the depths of "No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die..." but it felt like Mr. Carey was truncating the denoument. A minor quibble, again, because it provided more opportunity for Felix to have to come to grips with his own feelings and his responsibility to those around him.

I'm very happy to see Felix changing, and the world around him changing, but I realize that I'm starting on the last half of the series. I'm not one of those readers who draws out the end of a series trying to make it last. I'm eagerly devouring them as fast as I can, knowing the end is coming:

So what I’m getting at is this. Okay, maybe it’s cold in the grave. Maybe you come out of the light and you think, Fuck your mother, this is bad. This is worse than anything I would have guessed. But the trick is to clench your teeth, get a running start and dive.
- Felix Castor

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.