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I Belong

Review: The Lingering Dead by J.N. Duncan

Title: The Lingering Dead

Author: J.N. Duncan

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Deadworld (Book 3)

Publication Date: April 1, 2012

Format: Paperback, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0758255659 (Kensington Books)

ISBN-13: 978-0758255655 (Kensington Books)

Reviewed by: Kristie


Jackie Rutledge has faced down everything from the darkest sorcery to uber-vengeful revenants. But heading up the Bureaus special paranormal unit is presenting unexpected challenges. Handling otherworldly egos and politics has never come easy to this loner agent. And opening up to her sexy, vampire lover, Nick, is as unnerving as her unwanted new ability to slip between the realms of the living and the dead…

Now an insidious power holding helpless ghosts in thrall is using any means necessary to discredit Jackie and split her team apart for good. The only chance she has means baiting the terrifying Deadworld being stalking her dreams, hunting her every step–and growing ever more hungry for her ultimate sacrifice….

Quick & Dirty: Dark Urban Fantasy with a unique twist on vampires and ghosts. Jackie finally undergoes some growth as a character. An entertaining plot but slow pacing really drags the story down.

Opening Sentence: Jessica Davies’s face was numb.

Excerpt: Yes


The Lingering Dead is an urban fantasy that feeds its energy off of its heroes. The tragic nature of Jackie and Nick’s past bleeds into the characters that they are. Nick was present when his entire family was slaughtered by a vampire and was forced to watch as he was transformed into a vampire. He is still the cowboy sheriff he once was but has finally moved on from his tragic past. Jackie was molested and possibly beaten by her step-father and that has really developed how she deals with relationships. She is filled with hate towards other people and she doesn’t trust people much at all. Jackie begins The Lingering Dead pretty much the same way she was in the previous two novels in this series, self-deprecating and whiney but she ends the novel a little more comfortable with herself, able to trust more than she thought and not near as bitchy.

The novel begins not too long after the events of The Vengeful Dead.  Jackie is now the Operations Leader for Special Investigations, a civilian company that is attached to the FBI but is entirely funded by Nick. The FBI sends them cases that they believe have paranormal elements at work. Special Investigations decide to investigate a tip made by an FBI agent about too many ghosts in a town. Thatcher’s Mill is a unique little town that never grows or shrinks in size. It is a perfect, peaceful little town. But it’s not. An evil vampire, Charlotte, has mind-controlled all the inhabitants to keep the town as it once was in the 1890’s but the town has modernized over the years. She wants nothing more than to recreate her family as it once was and the many lingering ghosts are a victim of her madness. Unfortunately Nick and Shelby, both vampires, cannot get close to Charlotte because she can tell when a vampire is nearby.

Special Investigations travels back and forth from Thatcher’s Mill and Chicago by plane, sometimes making several trips in one day. Jackie is also being followed by a strange green monster in the Deadworld plane, no one knows what it is or why it is following her. Charlotte enlists the help of the townspeople to help stop Special Investigations. Jackie and Nick must stop Charlotte before she kills again and release the ghosts she is unwittingly holding captive.

The plot is tension filled at times and then it becomes sluggish at other points. The Lingering Dead has enough of a unique plot that keeps me entertained but at the same time is just okay. There are definitely better dark urban fantasy books out there; Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts is one of them.

Jackie is one of those characters that I just have a hard time rooting for. Jackie is off-putting most of the time. Nick has grown into a more likeable character but unfortunately not much of this book is from his point of view. Jackie dominates the POV but the evil Charlotte gets her fair share as well. Charlotte is one of those tragic characters who don’t truly believe they are evil. Her actions are justified in her mind. She is a powerful vampire but she has been uneducated in her powers so she is truly not unstoppable. Charlotte is a sadistic evil villain but I wasn’t too sure that she could top the bad guy from the first book, Deadworld.

The Lingering Dead is best read with the series. Deadworld doesn’t see too much action in this book and it really isn’t explained. Jackie and Nick’s backstory doesn’t really get explained either and some of the minor characters aren’t really explained as to how they fit in with the story. There may be plenty of questions to a new reader of the series.

Overall, The Lingering Dead is an enjoyable read if you like your heroines damaged or tortured from their pasts. Jackie finally undergoes a much needed change in character. The Lingering Dead is an enjoyable enough read but not enough so that I would recommend it.

Notable Scene:

“She’s charming you, Jackie! Stun her. Get the hell out.”

Laurel leaped out as Jackie staggered back, flying right at Charlotte with a scream that would impress any banshee. She did little to Charlotte, other than pass directly through her, but the moment was enough to startle, and that broke the icy vice that had clamped down on Jackie’s brain.

She dropped the grenade, releasing the handle and bolted. Fist fights, gun battles, even the previous craziness holding baby ghosts in her uterus were all preferable to having the dead, wonky eyes boring into her soul. That was a line that no longer got crossed.

One-point-eight seconds later, the ground shook and a wall of air slammed into Jackie, throwing her forward. She tucked her shoulder, turned into a roll, hit the gravel with a thud, and was back on her feet, ears ringing so loudly, she could not hear Nick’s voice yelling in her ear. At the bottom of the hill, she could see a pair of headlights coming up the drive. Without looking to see what had happened to Charlotte, Jackie ran like hell.

A high-pitched, childish scream pierced the night air. There was no pain in the sound, only rage. Jackie knew there was no chance in hell of outrunning Charlotte. She only hoped that she could reach the Explorer before Charlotte reached her. A hundred feet down the drive, Shelby slid to a stop, swinging the car around 270 degrees. Nick leaped out as she approached, eyes ablaze.

“Get in!” shouted Nick.

Jackie practically dove in, bouncing off the back of the front seat. Behind her, Jackie heard a chilling word, from a voice turned down an octave from the cute, fourteen-year-old she had just talked to. The petulance and haughtiness from before had turned into something Jackie did not recognize.


The Deadworld Series:

1. Deadworld

2. The Vengeful Dead

3. The Lingering Dead

FTC Advisory: Kensington Books provided me with a copy of The Lingering Dead. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Rating: 5.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Review: The Lingering Dead by J.N. Duncan, 5.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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