I don’t wish to alarm you but if you haven’t yet secured a tasty snack to accompany today’s Double-Dip, it’s probably already too late. For today we are delving into the world of post-death mischief, in which those that are dead pose all sorts of riddles and problems for those left behind. I received both of today’s books from their respective publishers via Netgalley. Let’s get on before our snacks (and the bodies) get cold.
Our first pick today is Disturbed Earth: Ritual Crime Unit (#2) by E. E. Richardson. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
A hard-nosed career officer in the male-dominated world of British policing, DCI Claire Pierce of North Yorkshire Police heads Northern England’s underfunded and understaffed Ritual Crime Unit. Injured in the line of duty, Pierce returns to work to find her new Detective Inspector has brought in a self-proclaimed necromancer to question the victim of a murder, there’s a coven of druids outside protesting the sale of their sacred site, and an old iron lantern in the evidence room has just sent out a signal.
Pierce is going to have to hit the ground running. A suspected ritual murder and a string of puzzling artefact thefts initially seem unconnected, but signs point to something bigger: buried skulls possessed by evil spirits start turning up, and they may only be the beginning. Someone is planning something big, and the consequences if they succeed could be catastrophic. With a rebellious second-in-command, an inexperienced team, and a boss who only cares about potential bad publicity, Pierce has to make the connections and stop the ritual before it’s too late…
…a good old-fashioned urban fantasy police-procedural lark featuring a redoubtable yet self-deprecating middle-aged female protagonist. On first getting into the book, it reminded me strongly of Ben Aaronovitch’s DC Peter Grant series (which is one of my favourites) in that it has a similar style and, of course, it’s an urban fantasy police-procedural. DCI Pierce has a dry British wit and a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude and apart from neromancers who do more harm than good and vicious attacks on frail old academics, she has to put up with a DI who is far too arrogant for his own good.
Don’t dip if…
…you don’t like starting in the middle of the series. As I didn’t realise that this was the second book in the series, I did spend a little time wondering why the author wasn’t giving us more background to the characters. Once I’d figured out that I had, in fact, missed the first book, the reason for these strange gaps in the backstory became apparent and I just went with the flow. It wasn’t that hard to catch up, but I did feel I was missing some of the finer points of the world-building.
Overall dip factor:
I’m glad to have found another candidate in the urban fantasy police-procedural sub genre as I think there’s a lot of scope for story content and I’m a little worried that Aaronovitch’s series has already reached its peak. If you’re fan of either murder mysteries, or police work with a supernatural twist, you should definitely give this one a try. It’s dark, intense but with an underlying sense of humour. File under W for “weird-ritual-shit-gone-pear-shaped”
Next up, we have Mortom by Erik Therme. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads…
Andy Crowl barely knew his recently deceased cousin, Craig Moore, so he’s especially surprised to be named as the sole beneficiary in Craig’s will. Not that there’s much to inherit: just an empty bank account and a run-down house.
Once Andy arrives in the town of Mortom, however, he’s drawn into his puzzle-obsessed cousin’s true legacy: a twisted and ominous treasure hunt. Beckoned by macabre clues of dead rats and cemetery keys, Andy jumps into the game, hoping to discover untold wealth. But unsavory secrets—and unanswered questions about Craig’s untimely demise—arise at every turn, leading Andy to wonder if he’s playing the game…or if the game is playing him.
Something’s rotten in Mortom. And this dead man’s game might not be all that Andy is doomed to lose.
…what felt like a scaled-down version of The Westing Game for adult readers. This book has everything for those who, like me, love trying to outwit the author and figure out the puzzle before it’s revealed to the characters. There are a number of little puzzles that Craig leaves for his cousin Andy to solve, and then there are some bigger challenges as Kate and Andy try to unravel the mystery of who Craig really was and the circumstances surrounding his death. There’s a little bit of humour, a little bit of mystery and one very engaging story wrapped up in a small town setting.
Don’t dip if…
…you’re not a fan of books in which the protagonists get the run-around from someone who isn’t even part of the story. Or, you don’t like it when characters give a tiny, teasing bit of pertinent information and then storm, flounce or otherwise exit the scene in a reticent fashion. Oh, and if you’re an activist for the humane treatment of rats, this probably isn’t the book for you.
Overall Dip Factor:
I found this book to be one part suspense, one part mystery and two parts fun. I really enjoyed trying to solve the tricky little puzzles along with Andy and while the characters weren’t particularly fleshed out, they had enough depth to muddy the waters as to what was actually going on in Mortom. This is a great pick for those times when you want to do a little bit of mental detective work, but don’t want anything too violent, weird or unsavoury.
And with that reference to flavour, we will bring this Double-Dip review to a close. I hope you’ve found something to chew over in this duet of post-death doings.
Until next time,