Nekropolis by Tim WaggonerJuly 21, 2011
by Tim Waggoner
Angry Robot Books
If you’re into wise-cracking, gallow’s humor styled Private Investigators with an asshole complex they are trying to live up to whenever an opportunity presents itself, then Matthew Richter is your man. Or technically speaking, your zombie.
Waggoner’s horror-noir detective novel takes place in the titular Nekropolis. A few centuries ago when the heat turned up and wooden stakes could be found under every child’s pillow, the Darkfolk (vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein’s monster, and all the other gruesome, toothsome baddies) packed up coffins and headstones for an alternate dimension. The group was headed by the mysterious and god-like Father Dis, who forged a floated world in a vast darkness complete with a harmless artificial sun to see by. The city is shaped like a pentagram – naturally – and each point of the star is commanded by one of five Darklords.
Devout crimestopper Matthew Richter first found his way to this city of monsters when he and his partner followed a killer through a dimensional portal. A battle apparently ensued, earning Matthew an enemy in the form of the witches’ and warlocks’ Darklord. Both Matt and his partner die while stopping the head witch’s evil plan. For reason’s no one knows, least of all the man himself, Matt is revived as a self-willed zombie – the only one in existence.
With the help of his witch doctor’s preservative spells, Matt makes a new life for himself as a Private Investigator. Shambling around Nekropolis, losing an arm here or having an ear ripped off there, he finds host bodies for displeased spirits and puts bad guys in jail. He’s got pockets full of amusing tricks for every occasion, or he slowly and surely fires off a few rounds of silver, garlic coated, blessed bullets to stop the monsters looking to ruin his day.
It’s business as usual until Devona, daughter of the vampire Darklord, shows up at his door looking for help. She’s in charge of protecting her unloving Daddy’s ancient relics and one has gone missing. If she doesn’t get it back, being cut out of the will is the least of her worries. Her tale of woe touches Matt’s rotting heart (or maybe it’s the skin-tight cat suit she wears, he can’t decide) and he agrees to help. He’s in need of money for preservative spells and she’s from a rich family, so it makes sense.
As the mystery unfolds it gets bigger and bigger with each chapter. And so does the cast of characters.
This isn’t the kind of mystery where you will have much of a hope figuring out who is behind it all. The list of suspects is long and they all seem to be scratched off the list (or maybe not) as soon as they make an appearance. You’re going to have to sit back and enjoy the ride like I did. Whether you’re sitting in a sentient and hungry taxi cab driven by a crazy demon with an unhealthy attachment to his car, or plunking your but in Silent Jack’s ghostly stagecoach for the cost of a mark on your hand, it’s a hell of a ride.
Is this a scary book? Not for any die-hard horror fans. Is it a great mystery? Not for die-hard mystery fans. But it is a great – occasionally gruesome – adventure in a world of monsters with a few detours down nostalgia lane.
It’s a quick read and hard to put down. You can’t help wanting to know what’s going to happen to Matt Richter next. If you’ve read Waggoner’s Like Death or Pandora’s Drive, you’re going to love this book. If you’ve read The Dresden Files series and didn’t feel like it had enough humor in it, then Matt Richter is the Jerry Lewis to Harry Dresden’s Dean Martin.
If I had anything bad to say about this book, it would be Waggoner’s brief lapses into detail-laden paragraphs. You quickly get accustomed to them though and barely notice them as you become swept up in the race against time. Another issue would be the huge cast. It seemed at times that a few incidents only occurred to introduce a character because Waggoner was having so much fun creating new monsters. To be completely honest, I didn’t feel all that negative about the sidesteps in the plot. They were kickass monsters. And each new encounter showed me how resourceful the zombie could be when his back was against the wall.
I can’t wait for more Matt Richter novels. It’s the perfect weapon for killing a day. The cure for boredom. Nekropolis slaps all the disgustingly fun aspects of Tim Waggoner’s writing right on the autopsy table, and I came away happy to have spent my money.
Have you read Nekropolis, or another one of Tim Waggoner’s books? What did you think?