Death Most Definite (Death Works)
by Trent Jamieson
Cover Artist: Peter Cotton
Review by Steve Sawicki
Orbit Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316078009
Date: 01 August 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Trent Jamieson is an Australian author making his US debut by providing us with a rather interesting entry in the growing supernatural genre. This is the first book in a series with a second book named but not yet scheduled for publication at this time. The series revolves around Steven De Selby, someone whose job it is to assist the newly dead to the afterlife. This is so they don't hang around haunting the rest of us but also because there are large stakes at play.
De Selby finds himself confronted with a dead girl who, apparently, has appeared to give him a message. That message is: Run. Shortly after the message is delivered, De Selby finds himself being shot at. Shortly after that he finds that almost everything he knows is going terribly wrong. The dead girl is an agent like him. In fact a lot of the dead who are showing up are agents like him. Or were agents to be more accurate. Soon, De Selby finds himself mired in a very complex and confusing situation where he can trust no one but the few remaining agents who are scrambling for their own lives, the ghost of a girl who first contacted him, and his own instincts. It seems someone is making a power play leading to a hostile take over of Death's territory. De Selby seems positioned as the only one who can stop it.
This is an interesting new series and while the basic concept is not all that new, Jamieson's take on it is at least different enough to be engaging. His choice of protagonist is also very interesting. De Selby is working his job as a Pomp, someone who guides the newly dead to their final resting place, because his parents are Pomps. He really has no calling, no passion, no dedication to the job. For him, it's just a job that he happens to be skilled at. This all changes, of course, once the rules of the game change and he finds himself being hunted instead of doing the hunting. At first his escapes are due more to dumb luck than any real skill on his part. But, as things continue to develop he is forced to either take control or die in the process of trying. This is the change point for him, the place where he moves from being someone who is acted upon to someone who does the acting. It's a fairly ambitious path for a writer to take his character upon.
I enjoyed this book right from the first page. Jamieson opens with a literal bang as his main character starts getting shot at and it's quickly paced from that point on. While there have certainly been a fair number of books about individuals who are either acting as Death's advocate or are Death themselves Jamieson has taken somewhat of a new direction with this one, dealing with the obvious holes in previous concepts--that a single Death can somehow manage all the death going on--by creating a large number of people who are doing that work and essentially bureaucratizing the whole process. One of the things that I found enjoyable was the journey that Jamieson takes his protagonist on--from indifferent slacker to key role player. There's another book coming and I, for one, am really looking forward to it.