Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: A Kiss Before the Apocalypse

I'm a fan of the Nightside and Dresden Files books. Awhile back there was a book of short stories that featured stories by both authors and a few others. It was that book that introduced me to the Remy Chandler books. And when Borders closed I made sure to include some of them in my plundering. Leap ahead to now and I've finally read one.

"A Kiss Before the Apocalypse" is the first book in the series and, I'm hoping, the least impressive. This would not have been the book to sell me on the series. But I'd say the same thing about the first two Discworld book and I love that series.

There's just not much original about the book. I'll grant you that this is true about most books. I'm usually the first to argue that presentation is the most important thing. And the further I got in the book the better I liked it. But for the first 2/3 of the book I kept thinking about how many other times I'd read the same thing so many other times.

Main character Remy Chandler is a supernatural private detective. The difference is that he's a former angel. Not a fallen angel. Just sort of disillusioned with God. That's the element that makes this character unusual.

In this book Death has gone missing and people aren't dying.

Right? That old story, again.

He has followed Remy's lead and is trying to live as a human. He's got a girlfriend and has been living on Earth for about a year. But while Remy suppresses his angelic half, Death tried to keep both parts of himself and it's been driving him mad. Now he's run off and Remy has to find him.

Often in the Death-takes-a-holiday type stories Death finds someone he cares about who he doesn't want to die. Either that's why he's stopped taking lives or else he met them while taking a break and he knows they'll die if he goes back to work. This time it's Remy who has someone dying. His wife is elderly now. Everyone thinks they're son and mother. And she's in the nursing home waiting for the end. And Remy knows that if Death goes back to work his wife will die. But the alternative is the apocalypse. Did I not mention that? Yeah, the four horsemen are coming. Still, when someone you love is dying or has just died, Remy and Death both find out that it's tempting to just let the world end. Because "fuck them".

The detective part of the story is very familiar. Remy chose the last name Chandler after the Raymond Chandler detective novels. And this book reads much like Raymond Chandler does. Or, how I think it would from the movies and other works inspired by his books that I've seen. It's close enough that I'm wondering if the skeleton of a Chandler book was taken and a new book built around it. New characters in the same old roles. Or maybe the author was just really good at emulating Raymond Chandler.

I already have three more books in the series. And I'm going to read them. I'll let you know how they go.

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