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Dead Men's Boots review

Freelance exorcist Felix Castor makes a return

Author: Mike Carey

Publisher: Orbit

544 pages • £7.99

ISBN: 978-1-84149-415-9

Rating:

In Felix Castor's world the dead don’t sleep and neither, it seems, does Mike Carey. Not content with appearing to write more comics per month than Stan Lee did in his career, in the past two years the award-winning author has crafted three novels. He does quantity and quality.

This is the third of his enjoyable exorcist-as-private-eye series about Felix Castor, a Bogartish supernatural gumshoe, trying to remain cold but forever getting pulled into trouble by his better nature. Imagine a Philip Marlowe novel with London as a tangible character and the undead as company. It’s a neat, if not especially original premise, and Castor is a surprisingly low-key protagonist. He doesn’t exactly shake you; rather, he gradually grows on you. Carey’s writing is similarly amiable; this is largely gentle horror. There are few overt shocks, instead we get well-crafted, accessible standalone narrative shadowed by a larger, creeping threat that runs through all the series: ghosts, zombies and were-creatures have entered our world because they’re running scared from something creepily undefined which is heading our way. Intriguing.

Dead Men’s Boots sees Castor investigating the suicide of a fellow exorcist (now a poltergeist) and a horrific murder that may be the work of a long-deceased American serial killer. It’s an engaging mystery, and Carey’s prose makes for comfortable reading. But the really compelling aspect is the burgeoning detail of Castor’s well-defined world; the different organisations battling for prominence in this new spirit-saturated existence. The sense of dread is increasing, as is Felix Castor’s success…

Rob Williams

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