Affairs of the Dead is an urban fantasy read with a touch of paranormal romance. I was attracted to this book because I loved the bizarre title and the cover was fabulous. LOL! I knew I was in for a wild and crazy ride as I read the first sentence in the book: “I was in a strip club trying to help a ghost get laid which was challenging, but not impossible.” It was a jaw-dropping hook that truly set the tone for the book. While that opening line may sound shocking, I actually found the whole opening scene and much of the ensuing book to be teeming with quirky, dry humor.
In this book, A. J. Locke has created a crazy hold-on-to-your-seat world of magic with necromancers, ghosts, witches and beasties. The author presents ghosts, not as scary unknowns, but as common place beings that you might encounter in everyday life. We learn that there are good and bad ghosts, just as there are good and bad people.
Many of the characters, including the hero and heroine, are employed at Affairs of the Dead, which is one of many businesses that serve to help ghosts move on before they turn into beasties. Beasties are horrible, demonic creatures bent on death and destruction. Rune stones form the main basis of the magic for necromancers and witches alike; they serve to snare pesky spirits and much more.
Selene, our heroine, is a necromancer with the added twist of also being a re-animator: she can not only see ghosts and help them materialize, but she can actually raise the dead which, unfortunately, happens to be illegal. She makes poor choices, as we all do, but she is also sexy, tough, stubborn, sassy and sweet. She really does try to do the best job she can and she gets the job done, but not always in the most conventional ways. (Remember the first sentence!) This tends to get her into trouble at work and, as a result, she is demoted to the Track and Retrieval department which means she’s like a ghost dog catcher. As far as relationships go, I wanted to shake Selene over her affair with Andrew, her married boss, but her job is so intense, that I cut her some slack. Other than with Andrew, she is a hit and run and prefers one night stands with no ties later.
Micah is our tortured hero with an unjust reputation for being a lady’s man. Micah and Selene had a one night stand ages ago and, since then, he has suppressed his feelings for Selene while having to see her every day. Their chemistry runs from cold to hot then settles on smokin’. Just think of a hit and run teaming with a stable, conscientious individual who craves a lasting relationship.
The story essentially starts with Selene’s 1st Track and Retrieval foray. She tracks down Ethan who seems to be a ghost on the run from the Affairs of the Dead, but he claims that he isn’t. When she finally catches him and attempts to force him into the afterlife, she discovers that he really isn’t dead at all. It appears that Ethan is an anomaly in the field of Necromancy – a soul that has been forced out of its body while its body is still alive. Selene takes it upon herself to help Ethan find and get restored to his body. Along the way, there are brutal murders which seem to point to the work of beasties and a seemingly innocuous, but nefarious ghost named Larry who doesn’t want to settle his affairs.
I found it refreshing to have so many racially diverse characters in the book, including the hero and the heroine. A.J. Locke’s flowing writing style made this read a cut above the rest. Every time I thought that I had the story figured out, the author inserted another curve ball. I hate cliff-hanger endings and there’s not one here… but the twist ending left me reeling. I sure hope there is a follow-up book.
Bottomline: I found this book to be a really good read.
-Reviewed by Linda