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Dead Streets by Tim Waggoner

July 21, 2011

Dead Streets

by Tim Waggoner

Angry Robot Books

When I saw Dead Streets sitting on the bookstore shelf, I nearly crapped myself. It could have been the McDonald’s Big Mac roiling in my gut, but most likely it was the sheer excitement unbalancing my system at the prospect of joining Waggoner’s zombie P.I., Matt Richter through the monster filled streets of Nekropolis.

I’m going to skip all the background story in this review. If you want to find out how Matt became a zombie and saved the city of monsters from destruction read the first book in the series, Nekropolis. Or get a brief intro from my review of the book here.

Dead Streets begins with life-challenged Private Investigator lending a hand to his sweetie, half-vampire Devona. Fallen out of her Darklord father’s graces, she’s set herself up in the security business using the knowledge learned from protecting her daddy’s precious treasures. Their current job is to protect the lead singer of a popular band. The singer is a banshee who also happens to be part siren. Even in a world of monsters the media, namely a medusa gorgon with cameras surgically replacing her snake heads, pounces on hot victims… er, celebrities of the week. Since Matt is the savior of Nekropolis he’s as hot as it gets. Flattered by the attention but pissed off at being distracted from his job watching the singer, he gives the reporter the brush off with one of his handy little tricks just in time to realize a “fan” is making off with the Banshee’s voice. A blundering, yet successful, effort to retrieve the voice ensues. Matt gets to add another name to his list of enemies; the sexy mercenary for hire, Overkill.

As if it couldn’t get any worse for the decomposing guy, one of Devona’s employees is putting the moves on her. Suddenly finding himself full of uncomfortable emotions, Matt gets jealous, makes a fool of himself, and ends up in an argument with his lovely lady. Being a self-willed zombie has its benefits (not feeling pain, a steady gun hand, or being able to reattach body parts that fall off by accident and on purpose), but it also means Viagra is not an option to help with Erectile Dysfuntion, because your blood is pretty much dust. So Matt, having “lost that loving feeling” is dealing with inadequacy issues.

Not wanting to make matter worse, he heads off for the apartment he shares with Devona, and on the way loses his head. Or rather his body. He’s attacked in an alley and gets a haircut that begins at his neck. Now he’s just a head in a sack, sitting on the dangerous sidewalks of Nekropolis, trying not to get eaten by a pack of imps, or the carnivorous sewer slime. Sending a psychic message to his love, Matt is soon rescued from becoming dinner. It’s all good. His witch doctor can just pull some hoodoo voodoo out of his ass and reattach his head. Except his body has been stolen.

And so begins Matt Richter’s newest mystery adventure.

A few favorite characters from the first book make appearances in this one; including the crazy demonic cab driver, his living car, and the deadly Silent Jack. But Waggoner also has more fun (and so will you) by introducing a whole monster squad of new baddies. Some are there to help Matt find out why he’s been framed for stealing a Darklord’s powerful toy. While others couldn’t give a damn who set him up because they just want to collect on the bounty placed on his head. We finally get to meet Victor Baron (Frankenstein’s Monster) whose gadgets were discussed in great detail during the first book. He puts Matt back together in time for the authorities to arrest him and send him to Tenebrus, a hellish jail run by a sadistic Egyptian demi-lord. The identity of Nekropolis’ crime syndicate is revealed, the same people who seemed to want Matt dead for good in the first book. And Matt will finally find out the meaning behind the mark Silent Jack gave him as payment for the ass-saving ride back in Nekropolis.

I was happy that Waggoner tied up some of the loose ends from the first book. There are a few left hanging around, along with new ones added to the tangle once Dead Streets finished.

As a reading experience, Dead Streets is like driving a hilly road through the country while someone gives you a Wet Willy in your ear. The ups and downs give your stomach that fluttering feeling of excitement. And despite how his spit and polished gruesome descriptions poked at your brains, you can’t stop giggling.

One thing about Matt Richter is that after following the guy around for a day or two, you have to like the guy. When the last page was turned I wanted to buy him a pint and hear what happened next.

Hopefully, I won’t have to wait too long for another trip to Nekropolis, city of monsters.

Have you read Dead Streets or Nekropolis? What did you think?

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