Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: Why Anton Strout Makes Me Smile

Dead To Me
The Simon Canderous Series
Author: Anton Strout
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Ace (February 26, 2008)
Available at Indie Bound, Powells, Barnes & Noble

Summary: Welcome to the Department of Extraordinary Affairs Other Division- New York's answer to the underfunded world of paranormal investigation. It’s a job caught up in red tape, memos, and office politics, but its becoming par for the course for recent recruit Simon Canderous. After a life of petty crime and twenty four years of watching his power of psychometry—the ability to divine information solely by touching an object—destroy any chance of a real relationship, he’s joined the forces of Good hoping to gain some control.

I picked up my copy of Dead to Me to include in the NAC Mini-Challenge: League of Reluctant Adults from Literary Escapism this month. Anton Strout is a new author to me, which horrifies me to admit, since he is right up my alley. He's a mixture of Piers Anthony (Xanth novels), Douglas Adams and Simon Green, with his own twist on things thrown in the mix. I was chuckling by page 2, and knew I HAD to share Mr. Strout's ability to add a title to the most obscure things. It can't be explained, so I simply have to share:

Ghost of Bruises Yet to Come
Ten Simple Ways Your Job Will Disfigure You!
Witty Banter to Ease Any Paranormal Situation
The Bed That Sex Forgot
Clairvoyance or Clair-annoyance: You Either Got It or You Don't
Directory of the Dearly Departed
Crime & Severe Punishment

The author also endeared me to his character when he made reference to watching all five seasons of Angel, hence the wearing of the black leather knee length coat. In case you are not familiar with said coat I can share this picture:

Simon is in a place in his life many of us have been. He's new to his job, starting fresh after a questionable past, and he's not even close to being lucky in love. The only difference between us and Simon is that he fighting the forces of Darkness and Evil, which just aren't as black and white as he thought they would be. Who can he trust? He's attracted to both a ghost gal and what appears to be a hot agent of evil. His mentor is cranky and keeping him on a "need to know" basis. Plus every stinking time he uses his paranormal power of divining information from an object he become lightheaded and has to pop Lifesavers by the roll.

Dead to Me is a fun urban fantasy with a little bit of light horror thrown in for good measure. I think Simon would be good friends with Harry Dresden once he figured out that Harry really wasn't into black magic. Anton Strout is witty and sarcastic, but his writing also has heart. He makes us feel protective of Simon, cheering him, cringing for him when he makes mistakes and getting angry when someone hurts him. He also makes us want to read his other two books to find out what happens in Simon's life now that he's a bit more broken in on the paranormal investigative front. The second book, Deader Still, is already out, and the third book, Dead Matter is coming out on February 23rd.

You can learn more about Anton Strout and Simon here: