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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Author:  Trent Jamieson
Plot Type:  Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings:  Violence4, Seneuality3, Humor1
Publisher and Titles:  Orbit
       Death Most Definite (8/2010)
       Managing Death (12/2011)
       The Business of Death (9/2011)
       The Memory of Death (e-novella, 2/2014)
       The Carnival of Death (2015)

     In this world, death is a deadly corporation that is called MortMax. Death Most Definite introduces us to Steven de Selby, who belongs to a family of psychopomps in Brisbane, Australia, who have worked for MortMax for generations. Psychopomps are humans with the ability, and the responsibility, to send souls on to the Underworld after their bodies die. The mythology of this world is complex, with the central focus on the One Tree, a huge, magical fig tree that serves as a limbo-type place where souls stop off before being absorbed by the tree on their way to the Underworld. Some of the action also takes place in the Deep Dark, which is an Underworld locale.

     Steve is a hard-drinking, troubled young man who has always taken his pomp duties somewhat lightly, with his personal life always coming first. In book 1, however, someone is murdering the psychopomps of Brisbane, and soon Steve finds himself all alone. 

     If you can absorb the mythology of the series (without an in-book glossary), you'll probably enjoy the books. The author has a very brief glossary on his web site. Click HERE to go to that web page. Then find DEATH WORKS in the center of the black box at the top of the page. If you slide your cursor down to "Death Works Glossarythe Glossary of Death," a list will pop up on the right. Just select the term you want you will be taken to an information page for that topic. It's not very user friendly, because the explanations are all on different pages so you have to go through the selection process for each term.

     Steve is basically a nice guy, but with enough flaws to make him an interesting hero with whom we can empathize. The supporting characters have plenty of depth, so we look forward to Steve's interrelationships with them. The series actually reminds me a lot of Simon R. Green's NIGHTSIDE and SECRET HISTORIES/EDDIE DROOD series, so if you like Steve's adventures, you might want to give them a try.

          BOOK 1:  Death Most Definite          
     In the first scene, an assassin tries to kill Steve, but the soul of a dead pomp (Lissa Jones, Steve's love interest) saves him. For some reason, Lissa is able to stay in the real world and help Steve try to outwit the villain who is causing all of the trouble. The story follows Steve and Lissa's adventures as they search for Steve’s missing boss (Mr. D—for Death), discover the identity of the villain, and fight off the Stirrers—zombie-esque restless spirits who refuse to go to the Underworld, but instead take over the physical bodies of the dead or suck out the essence of the living. 

     Don’t get too attached to any of the characters, because not many of them make it all the way through the book. At the end of the story, Steve performs an Orpheus Maneuver in Hell, and if you know the Orpheus story, you can guess what's going on.

          BOOK 2:  Managing Death          

     In this book, Steven has been promoted to Regional Manager (aka RM) and must learn how to manage all aspects of death in Australia. In this world, there are 13 RMs, each of whom holds part of Hungry Death within himself or herself. The primary plot thread follows Rillman, a former Ankou (an assistant to an RM) who has seemingly returned from the Underworld to seek vengeance against Steven, partly because Rillman's own Orpheus Maneuver failed, while Steve's succeeded (in the previous book). 

     In the meantime, Steve must prepare for a Death Moot (a meeting of all 13 RMs), which he is hosting. He must also learnvery quicklyhow to use his new powers and how to handle the politics of his new position. Steve is still the hard-drinking, slightly slothful character we met in book 1, so all of this work is not making him very happy. To complicate his life, his relationship with Lissa has hit some snags. 

     On top of all of this, the Stirrer God is coming, and that can't be good. This is the old-evil-coming-back-to-life plot line that is frequently found in paranormal fiction, but it is handled here in an inventive manner.  

          BOOK 3:  The Business of Death          
     Here's what Jamieson has to say on his web site about the third book in the series: "This book ties up a lot of stuff (Stirrer Gods, consequences of deals, the way relationships play out, you know the meaty stuff) and I think it has a real emotional punch to it. It certainly choked me up a few times in the writing. It’s the most cinematic of the books in a way, and the most intimate, too. And no-one gets out of it without hurting."

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