[review] DEADER STILL by Anton Strout


Simon Canderous Series, Book 2
Anton Strout
Penguin/Ace, 2009

Plot Summary: It’s been 737 days since the Department of Extraordinary Affairs’ last vampire incursion, but that streak appears to have ended when a boat full of dead lawyers is found in the Hudson River. Using the power of psychometry—the ability to divine the history of an object by touching it—agent Simon Canderous discovers that the booze cruise was crashed by something that sucked all the blood out of the litigators. Now, his workday may never end—until his life does. [Amazon].

Creature Feature: Humans with powers, zombies, vampires.

Originality: Although the police/detective style of Urban Fantasy may not be original, Strout’s take on it certainly is.  It’s humorous without being schlocky, irreverent without being insulting and poignant at times as well.  I also admit that I love the goofy names for the courses on the D.E.A. pamphlets too.

Characterization: Simon is definitely tested as his relationships with his past, girlfriend, partner and standing within the Department of Extraordinary affairs are all strained in one way or another.  But even with wounded pride, ego or psyche, he forges ahead to do what he thinks is right to protect the city of New York and those he care about most.

Believability: Mr. Strout uses a geek-centric vernacular, setting (Comic Con) and the city of New York to set the stage for the mystery of what or who killed all of those lawyers on their ill-fated cruise.  These elements are used well in delivering humor, creepiness factor and most of all, believability to the story.

Storytelling: Mr. Strout uses a lot of atmospheric detail by way of dialogue and using key locations in New York as the backdrop for the story.  He pokes at life, bureaucracy and relationships with a witty stick.   His prose is smart, economical and funny.  I found it unique and refreshing.

Badass Factor: Many of Simon Canderous’ friends and foes alike are pretty badass, including his girlfriend Jane.  Simon, himself, isn’t really badass.  He is just a guy with psychometric power and a bat who wants to set things right and that makes you want to root for him.

Too Stupid To Live Moments: It is that aforementioned need to set things right that sometimes has him barreling into situations with little or no backup but he somehow manages to survive but not always unscathed.

Notable Quotes: I like this how this exchange highlights Mina’s flavor of crazy.

“Pay well, does it?” she said.  “Playing Sanford and Son?”

“I make my rent,” I said with a dismissive shrug.

This allows you to pay rent?” she said, not believing me.  She shook the shark as she spoke and the tiny garbage fell out of its mouth.    Its jaws snapped shut.

“Please put that down,” I requested, not wanting to sound too desperate.

“Sure, Candy,” she said all rainbows and sunshine now.  I wondered if I had been this bipolar back then as well.  “No problem.”

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy.  Deader Still is a fun, interesting and witty read.  It is something a little different with a male protagonist, tongue in cheek attitude and interesting mystery.  I would definitely recommend reading Dead to Me first.

Anton’s Website

League of Reluctant Adults

Lisa Trevethan