Steve crawls to shore… apparently free from the Death of Water’s eternal hell. This is unexpected – but not as much as being greeted by men with guns… or finally getting home to find that Lisa and Tim think he’s a monster.
And they have 3 other copies of him lurking in the basement. Each of which thinks they’re the real one.
When I first came across this book I was sceptical. The Death Works series had ended – it had ended rather elegantly, if somewhat tragically, and I didn’t see how another book would come out of the series, especially one that still involved Steve de Selby. Or even the universe since everything seems neatly resolved. I admit, I rather cynically expected a poor book that had stretched out a done concept.
And I was wrong.
This book continues on with the same fascinating world and excellent characters and does manage to keep the story going. Steve is still very true to what he was – so well meaning, more than a little inept, but so determined to do what is right. He’s still a little whiney, his optimism still rather expecting things to work out even when nothing owes him a happy ending. Tim and Lisa are the hard edged professionals they’ve always been with some added insight into some of the other entities around him.
The time gap has added some interesting elements – like it confirmed that Tim and Lisa are actually way better at the job than Steve ever was. But also seeing the Hungry Death through Lisa’s eyes, perhaps, gives a better sense of just what Steve was facing as Hungry Death. I also like how Tim and Lisa have grieved to an extent, but are still angry about what Steve did without telling them at the end ofThe Business of Death. He doesn’t get to come back and have everything be twee and lovely and he can just step back into his old role, his old relationships as if nothing had happened and no time had passed. It’s not that neat
I think that’s one thing that really made me like this book – along with some nifty action and some great world revelations. It resisted the urge to be twee. These books have never been twee, there’s always been an edge of grittiness, a sense that the world isn’t fair and an idea that the “good guys” weren’t really all that good. Just good in comparison. It was one of the things that made Steve stand out as the good, rather naïve, but genuinely nice guy in a sea of sharks. When bringing a character back as happened in this book it is easy to get all saccharine about it. This doesn’t – it’s not sweet, it’s not neat, it’s still rough and painful and difficult and there’s no shiny “love conquers all” fluffy ending. Especially since Lisa is far far too professional to let sentiment cloud her professional judgement