*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Dead Man in a Ditch – Book 2 of the Fetch Phillips Archives by Luke Arnold #BrainfluffNETGALLEYbookreview #DeadManinaDitchbookreview

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I enjoyed the first book in this series, Last Smile in Sunder Citysee my review, so when I saw the second book was coming up, I was delighted to be approved to read it. Would I enjoy it as much as the first book?

BLURB: The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need? Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure.

Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot.

Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley.

What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back. Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world.

But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder.

REVIEW: It starts well – I very quickly felt right back at home in this grim, noirish city where everything is a bleaker, more tattered version of itself because Magic has now disappeared. I settled into the first two adventures well enough. Though wincing somewhat as Fetch seems to take far more than his fair share of beatings, and I felt suitably sympathetic at his angst and guilt. But…

It’s a longish book at well over 400 pages, and generally that sort of length doesn’t bother me – but just about the halfway mark, I was conscious of this one starting to drag. Fetch’s constant misery became irritating and the fact that the plot seemed to cycle round in ever-widening circles, so that what initially seemed like a progression just became more of the same – Fetch investigating a case… feeling miserable… getting beaten up… Rinse and repeat. It didn’t help that there was precious little light and shade – it was basically all shades of dark.

I’m aware that right now I’m not really in the right place for lots of bleakness. But the quirky cover and the strapline comparing this book to Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series had me thinking that maybe this book would be a whole lot lighter, as by the end of the first book, Fetch seemed to have found some closure. The world is well described, and Arnold’s vivid descriptions of the once-magical characters are both imaginative and original – I love the premise. But Fetch’s constant angst was also annoying the other characters in the story – it comes to something when I find myself nodding in agreement as a major antagonist verbally shreds the hero.

If you are looking for a fantasy crime series with a real difference and enjoy your world on the grimy, grimdark side, then you may well find this one suits you. While I obtained an arc of Dead Man in a Ditch from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
6/10

13 responses »

  1. I’m sorry that this proved to be such a disappointment! To say the truth, although I was eyeing it with interest thanks to the first volume of the series, there was something holding me back – the usual, trustworthy “book vibes” – and I waited to hear from some of my fellow bloggers before committing.
    Now that I’ve read your review, particularly where you speak of too much darkness and repetitions, I’m not so sanguine about this one anymore…
    Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

    • Yes… I did have some of the same issues with the first book, but I figured that this one would be moving onward and have sorted some of them out. But it comes to something, when a major character is busy critiquing the hero’s flaws, and I’m nodding along and absolutely agreeing!

    • Yes – I nearly didn’t request this one, given the issues I’d had with Last Smile in Sunder City – but it is such a good premise and there are aspects that I really enjoyed. But I’m also aware that my reaction to Fetch is quite extreme and that many other folks have thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  2. Oh dear…no wonder you warned me about this one. There’s nothing wrong with having a miserable character, but…yeah, you can’t have him stay that way, or at the very least you have to have a counterbalance, because this is fiction and we need to give that structure for the sake of reader experience. What a bummer!

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