Undead with Heart – A book review

Today, I decided to publish a review of a fantastic book I recently finished. I highly recommend you bloggerfolk check Mark out both as an author to read, as well as someone with whom to connect online.

The blog may occasionally feature books I deem worthy of your attention. Fear not, book shepherds. The fact that your book has not yet reached my blog does not somehow reduce its inherent worth. (Clearly, everyone’s self worth is tied up in whether or not I find time to blog about them.)

This self-delusion is brought to you by… Caffeine.

Caffeine. The legal addictive stimulant. 

Now let the review commence. Make it so!

Things to Do In Denver When You’re Un-Dead by Mark Stone 

In a world where we don’t like to think about nasty fantasy creatures cavorting about – make that our world, today – we have the BSI, the alphabet agency responsible for acting as bouncer to the supernatural club.

Our protagonist, Kal Hakala, is the veteran knee breaker for the BSI, surviving years longer than the average field agent. The story drops us with him on a relatively routine supernatural cleanup job, and things seem pretty quiet for the first couple of chapters.

Stone then does a good job of tossing you right into the thick of things, telling you just enough to keep you informed while still leaving a sense of uncertainty.

Kal Hakala, is intense and still believable, a fine line many authors have trouble walking these days. He’s a pleasure to follow through the story, bringing plenty of sardonic wit to some otherwise dark and gruesome situations. He is not, however, without feeling – Stone successfully forces Kal to face his deeper emotions in an organic fashion that I found satisfying.

On a personal note, I found that I could relate to Kal’s fury sessions. It’s something I have to fight myself, and seeing him try to cope with the internal rage drew me closer to the character, where I’m sure for some others it would somewhat alienate him.

Upper middle short Scandinavian with
a peculiarly twisted mind… just what we
need to bring the pain to our characters!

Kal led a varied cast of characters. Each member of the BSI managed to be distinct without that ‘hey-look-this-is-my-one-defining-characteristic’ feeling. I also found the peculiar philosophy of the BSI agents regarding their ‘Green Peas’ intriguing. The government agency manages to take on its own culture I haven’t yet seen in fiction.

The story proper, once it gets started, moves at a rocket-sled-to-hell pace, with maybe a pit stop for some refreshing waterboarding. Solving one problem spawns two more (sometimes literally). Stone grabs hold of the plot, just as Kal grips a deathlock on the problem at hand, and neither seem to know how to let go.

The only complaint I have is – to be very fair – really a stylistic choice. Stone uses a lot of flashback sequences to communicate backstory. Granted, these are still well crafted, and tell us important aspects about our protagonist. Realistically, this ‘complaint’ is equal part ‘compliment,’ because the fact is that the present day story was so gripping that I just wanted to get back to it and find out what was going to happen.

Stone brings up several questions throughout the narrative, and only answers some of them in the course of this book. Be aware that you’ll need to read more books in the BSI series to find all the answers – but by the time you’re to the end of ‘Things to Do in Denver When You’re Undead’, you should be more than prepared to make that commitment.

This book is well worth your time, especially as it presents you an opportunity to check out this new author.

Find Mark Stone here: http://markeverettstone.com/

He’s also on Twitter as: @M3verettStone

Find ‘Things to Do in Denver When You’re Undead’ on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Things-Den…

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