Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Timothy Long’s “At the Behest of the Dead”

Phineas Cavanaugh is a hack Necromancer living near Seattle who scrapes by tracking down lost souls or by occasionally helping the police out with a murder investigation.  He left his guild pretty much in shame a few years back and has had a hard knock life ever since.  Things start to get interesting when he is hired to seek out the lost soul of an elderly woman’s dead husband and a demon tries to devour him in a park while on the job.  At the same time the police call upon his services to track down a vicious shape shifter who seems to know Phineas and might just be hunting him as well.

Things get worse from there as Phineas’s old mentor is attacked and brutally murdered at his guild and he is called upon to return to his old stomping grounds to figure out what has happened by attempting to speak to his departed friend’s soul.  That is when all hell breaks loose, literally.  Phineas is thrust into a mystery where old enemies and friends are drawn into the fray with him smack dab in the middle.  He has to figure out what is going on and what part he is supposed to play before demons and the dead alike tear their way into our plane of existence and destroy everything that Phineas cares about.

At The Behest Of The Dead is told in first person and one can’t help but be reminded of noir detective potboilers with its urban sensibilities and snarky attitude.  Phineas is a self-effacing schlub with a good heart even if he does work with the dead and rubs elbows with demons and other questionable sorts.  It has a bit of Simon Green’s Nightside going for it, as well as Glenn Cook’s Garrett Files.  Urban fantasy with as much irreverence as mystery, with a bit of romance tossed in for good measure.  And Phineas, like other hard luck P.I-types, seems to attract the attention of the ladies despite perhaps looking and acting like he has been ridden hard and put away wet most of the time.  Even though he has rough edges (or maybe because he does), Phineas is a likable sort, making his tale easy to read and entertaining.

Tim Long stretches himself beyond the zombie apocalyptic genre he normally haunts with this one, although he gives a winking nod to his roots with a few zombies showing up, though they are not anywhere near being a critical part of the telling of this tale.  He has crafted an interesting world with the magical elements fantasy fans will appreciate while putting his own slant on things, making this world his and his alone.  The characters are interesting and diverse enough to make them stand out and I can imagine some pretty intriguing adventures in their future.  A fun read that has excellent potential as the start of an enjoyable series of books.

At The Behest Of The Dead can be found here:   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EZCXA9M/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

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