Author: J. N. Duncan
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Deadworld (Book 1)
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Format: Paperback, 420 Pages
She’s as tough as anything haunting Chicago’s streets. But to deal with an inhuman power that won’t stay buried, this FBI agent needs help that comes at an immortal price. . .
Jackie Rutledge has seen her share of supernatural killers. But her latest murder case is what recurring nightmares are made of. Brutally exsanguinated human victims, vanishing-into-the-ether evidence, and a city on the edge of panic mean that she and her psychic partner, Laurel, are going to need more than just backup . . .
So Jackie is fine with any help rugged P.I. Nick Anderson can give–even if that includes the impish ghost and sexy vampire who make up his team. But Nick is hiding secrets of his own. And Jackie’s investigation has plunged them both into a vengeful game reaching back centuries–and up against a malevolent force hungry for more than just victory. . .
Quick & Dirty: Deadworld misses the mark with an unlikable heroine and a forgettable supporting cast. As far as urban fantasy novels go, this one isn’t a great success.
Opening Sentence: A misty rain swirled down into the darkness between the two brick buildings.
FBI agent Jackie Rutledge and her psychic partner, Laurel, have been assigned to a new murder investigation. There is nothing normal about the crime scene or the way in which the victim was killed. As luck would have it, Nick Anderson, a private investigator, is already working hard to track the killer. Jackie, Nick and their rag-tag group of supernatural friends set out to stop the killer.
The introduction to this urban fantasy world isn’t particularly well executed. The world-building is superficial and the foundation for a compelling plot never materialized. Urban fantasy tends to be character driven, but I was unable to connect with any of these characters. The narrative is tedious and the meandering plot developed far too slowly, causing me to lost interest. The characters fall flat and I just didn’t care about any of them.
I think many readers might find it difficult to really connect with Deadworld’s protagonist, Jackie. She lacks an authentic female voice. With a simple find and replace command you could quickly change the gender of the protagonist and no one would notice. Jackie isn’t the type of dynamic urban fantasy heroine that I enjoy reading about. I don’t mind reading about a flawed heroine with baggage, but if the personality and attitude are off – it just doesn’t work for me. For a character with so many flaws, Jackie isn’t remotely interesting or likable. Jackie’s damaged past translated into some pretty outrageous behavior. Sleeping around with random strangers and getting drunk seem to be her favorite pastimes. Jackie comes off as brash, immature, bitter, miserable, and angry with no self respect. These are some pretty deplorable attributes for anyone, especially an FBI agent. I just couldn’t find any redeeming qualities and I think her character really lacked authenticity.
Overall, Deadworld isn’t partially exciting and mostly unoriginal. This story doesn’t know what it wants to be. It straddles the line between hard-boiled detective fiction and urban fantasy and ends up being Dresden lite. The characters didn’t feel authentic, the plot lacked depth and certain aspects of the story were revealed too slowly.
Nick reached over and grabbed the mudroom door’s handle. “Be wary. We’re walking into a trap.” She nodded, and Nick opened the door. At that moment, the ringing thrum of Deadworld began to abate. “He’s stopped feeding.”
The heavy, metal basement door was unlocked, and Nick shoved it open and leaped down to the landing. Jackie tried to run after.
Summoning up the bit of extra strength he could, Nick braced himself for the landing so he would keep from slamming into the opposite wall. He had both guns out pointing out across the basement floor when his feet touched down.
A single fluorescent light burned in the middle of the room, an all-too-familiar setup. Its blue-white glare cast a ghostly cone of light down on the cadaver’s table, upon which the Agatha lookalike lay. She was still clad in Winnie the Pooh pajamas, and her listless arm hung over the side of the table, fresh blood dripping from the small puncture in her arm.
The Deadworld Series:
FTC Advisory: Kensington provided me with a copy of Deadworld. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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