Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba)
by Daniel Josť Older
Review by Wes Breazeale
Roc Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425275986
Date: 06 January 2015 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In Half-Resurrection Blues, Carlos Delacruz is an agent for the New York Council of the Dead, working with his ghostly partners Riley and Dro to keep the dead orderly in Brooklyn. Carlos himself was once dead, but now he's back--for the most part--to the world of the living. But as an inbetweener he doesn't really have a place in either world. But having a physical body gives him a leg up on his ghostly counterparts and usually means Carlos is the go-to person when the Council needs help in the real world.
Brooklyn is Carlos' beat, and his home--the only place where he has found a measure of comfort and solace since coming back. Unfortunately for Carlos, he doesn't have any memories of his life before he died. And being an inbetweener is rather lonely. Colder to the touch than a living person, and with a barely beating heart, he can still get by without being noticed. But he can't really interact with anyone for too long without blowing his cover.
Carlos' most recent assignment has him tracking someone who's been causing trouble with the dead, and possibly trying to do a whole lot more. In the course of his investigation Carlos realizes that he may not be the only inbetweener out there, leading him to question the Council, himself, and the nature of death itself.
Half-Resurrection Blues is the first in a new series from Daniel Jose Older. Older received critical acclaim for his short story collection Salsa Nocturna, which featured Carlos' first appearance, and Half-Resurrection Blues should garner even more praise. Though not bringing anything specifically new to the table in regards to urban fantasy, Older does bring a fresh voice and style. Carlos' Brooklyn feels authentic, dirty and dark, populated with a diversity that isn't always the hallmark of urban fantasy. And Older provides a good voice for Carlos. He too feels authentic. Not always grim and gloomy, not always snarky and quippy, he feels like a real person in terms of his reactions to things.
Older does a nice job of slowly providing greater insight into Carlos's situation, as well as the deepening mystery that he is investigating. Not everything about Carlos is clear, and this does create some questions for the reader. Dead-ish, Carlos still breathes and needs sleep. He bleeds. Heck, he can get aroused. So other than being colder and being able to see ghosts, it's not entirely obvious what sets him apart from a normal human. This could of course be intentional, so that there are further explorations to be had in future books. Beyond Carlos, Older does a nice job of creating interesting supporting characters, though none of them get as much attention as Carlos. In particular, Carlos' love interest, Sasha, has the potential to be developed into an intriguing and strong character. Here though, she is predominantly present only as a draw for Carlos. It will be curious to see where Older goes in future books.
Half-Resurrection Blues is an enjoyable addition to the genre, and I look forward to future books in the series.