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Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey
Review by Drew Bittner
Grand Central Publishing Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0446580325
Date: 23 July 2009 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Felix "Fix" Castor, exorcist, has faced his share of challenges--but three back-to-back crises at once may be more than he can take.

First up is figuring out why a friend and fellow exorcist, spiraling down into madness, would kill himself... and then turn up to haunt his old home and colleagues. Second is untangling a legal mess regarding his demon-possessed friend, while third is investigating an improbable rape-murder.

More Mike Carey:
The Devil You Know (UK)
Vicious Circle (UK)
Vicious Circle (US)
Dead Men's Boots (UK)

In Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey, Fix is in, well, a real fix.

Attending the funeral of a colleague shouldn't lead down a dark path, but that is always Fix's fate. The passing of exorcist John Gittings opens a Pandora's box of problems for the down-on-his-luck exorcist, whose work has most recently cost him friends, a place to live and even his reputation among London's Metropolitan Police.

And things are about to get worse.

A pattern of murders echoes the work of an American serial killer--problem is, the killer is safely dead. Or is she? Castor and his ally Juliet (a succubus turned exorcist) know there is more here than meets the eye. However, their investigation hits a dead end (no pun intended) that even a trip to America cannot clear up.

Making matters even more complicated, Fix and his former landlady Pamela "Pen" Bruckner have to fend off a legal challenge over the rights to their friend, Rafael Ditko. Rafi is sharing his body with the demon Asmodeus, thanks to a mistake Fix made when he was first learning to use his own power to exorcise ghosts. It seems the deck is stacked against Pen and Fix... until Fix realizes that all three of these problems are very deeply connected.

Trouble is, solving all three could be a very dangerous proposition. Even his demon friend Juliet and zombie hacker Nicky Heath may not be able to help much this time. Unless Fix can figure out this knotty problem, he may end up down among the dead men himself.

Mike Carey once again shows his prodigious talent in this latest Felix Castor adventure. It's difficult to really get into the story without blowing plot points, but that is true of many engaging mysteries, especially when there are intricacies that are best discovered and not spoiled in a review. Suffice it to say that the plot will keep readers guessing all the way to the finish.

Fix continues to grow and develop as a character. He's learned some very hard lessons in the past two books, and this one is no different; he's up against serious challenges, both spiritual and personal. If he's a bit more world-weary at times in this volume, he's certainly earned it.

Once again, former boss Jenna-Jane Mulbridge is an adversary, battling to take Rafi into her care so that she can study demonic possession firsthand. Fix's heated exchanges with her spark some of the sharpest, snarkiest dialogue in the book. Representing soulless science under a veneer of compassion, Mulbridge is an excellent foil to Fix's humanitarian core.

Juliet gets plenty of "screen time" in this book as well, as she battles a powerful demon and gains a serious relationship. Not only that, but her trip to America yields some unexpected consequences, making Fix realize that his indestructible former protegee may be anything but. Carey makes Juliet a more sympathetic character this time around, continuing her evolution as a terrific part of Fix's world.

There's much more that could be said in favor of this excellent book, but the essence is this: readers who like hard-boiled heroes fighting impossible odds, for the sake of friendship and love, with a more-than-generous dose of the supernatural, are going to love this book.

Strongly recommended.

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