Death Warmed Over
There are a lot of different types of stories out there, but Death Warmed Over is hard to top. Kevin J. Anderson takes the classic detective noir story and populates it with zombies, vampires, werewolves, mummies and every other sort of ghoul and goblin. The end result is a fun story full of surprises.
Heading into this book, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew it starred a zombie PI in a world filled with monsters including werewolf hitmen. However the cover struck me as a little cartoonish and comical, so it was a bit of a surprise when I came across some of the adult oriented content in the novel. Amid comical characters like vampire interior decorators and a pair of witch sisters, one of which who was accidentally turned into a sow, you almost get the feeling that this could be a kid’s story. However there are some more mature elements like vampire porn, ZILF, zombie cougars, and BBV (big breasted vampires) that certainly let the reader know that this is not a kid’s book. There’s also some violence as people are sometimes torn limb from limb due to unfortunate encounters with the book’s monsters. In fact, at one point a troll nearly deep fried a kid as a tasty snack. It’s an odd combination but Kevin J. Anderson makes it work. By taking light hearted material and blending it with some darker stuff, he creates a believable mix that imitates the real world.
The bizarre setting for the story is based on an event called The Big Uneasy. About ten years ago an event occurred that caused the dead to rise, spirits to linger, and vampires, werewolves and the like to pop up. The book doesn’t dwell very long on the details but instead focuses on the characters. Dan Chambeaux aka Dan Shamble is the main character. He’s a zombie private investigator and a partner in Chambeaux and Deyer Investigations. Since his death, he’s accumulated a healthy pile of unsolved cases. Through the story, readers will get to dive into that pile as they’re introduced to a wide variety of monsters and their peculiar circumstances. From persecuted undead clients to messy divorces where the spouse claims the person they married no longer exists now that they’re a werewolf. There’s a bit of mystery as the reader is left to wonder who killed Dan and how it might be related to his other cases. Plus each case also has it’s own questions which layers on an additional mystery factor. Yet the ultimate driving factor is the characters themselves. As much as I wanted to know who killed Dan, what I really wanted to know was what was going to happen to him? Was he going to survive? Was he going to catch his murderer(s)? And most importantly, would his friends survive as well?
All in all it’s a colorful combination of entertaining elements. Part Chinatown, part horror comedy, Death Warmed Over is entirely fun. The characters are enjoyable. The story is well paced and decently balanced between humor, drama, and action. Yet at the heart, it’s a detective story so most of it is centered on dialog and plot progression as cases are solved, created, and linked together. I enjoyed it enough to give it a solid four out of five metal bikinis and recommend it to anyone who wants to shake up their normal reading diet with something a bit different.