Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson is an interesting read for a couple of reasons:
- It’s Australian urban fantasy set in Brisbane.
- It uses a few standard urban and comic fantasy ideas that are reinterpreted in delightfully new ways.
- It’s funny.
- It’s fast.
- It manages to be all the above while keeping a gritty, and often dark edge.
I enjoyed the ride all the way through this book, and got a strong sense that Mr Jamieson had a ball with his characters.
The protagonist, Stephen, is one of a firm of ‘Pomps’ who help souls to cross into the afterlife. The whole firm is massacred in a single day, except for Stephen, and he soon realises it’s a sort of corporate take-over involving a dangerous deal with evil that could bring on the end of the world.
It’s bloody and visceral and Stephen seems to have more bad luck than good, but it is also a funny. In fact if you crossed the script writers of the series Dead Like Me with Quentin Tarantino, this is probably the book you’d get.
My one criticism of the book is Stephen’s convenient naivety.
He knows less than any other character about how his own world works and what’s going on. This allows him to bumble around for quite a while in an engaging ‘chase story’ way, but also makes him more passive than he should be. Partly because the ‘geeky guy with no ambition who can’t get over his last relationship’ cliché isn’t enough on its own to give us a properly rounded out character.
Blissfully – though this book is the first of a series – it is a solid stand-alone book that ends with firm resolution and even a tiny bit of happiness for poor Stephen.