DEAD MEN’S BOOTS by Mike Carey [Review]


Mike Carey is best known for writing graphic novels like X-Men: Legacy and Lucifer (which was nominated for an Eisner award), but he is also a novelist. His books feature Felix Castor, an exorcist living in an alternate version of modern day London where the dead don’t necessarily stay dead. They’ve begun to come back as ghosts, zombies (although decaying flesh is problematic), and possessed animals (frightening creatures called werewolves or loup-garous). No one knows why this is happening, though the Catholic Church thinks it’s a sign of the apocalypse. Others want to establish legal rights for the dead and they view exorcists as their enemies. The door is apparently open for demons, like the succubus Juliet, to come to Earth too. Exorcists like Felix Castor have discovered that they possess an innate ability to permanently banish the dead, but where they are exiled to remains a mystery. Castor doesn’t do straight exorcisms; he’s more of a paranormal private investigator. In Dead Men’s Boots, Castor begins retracing the steps of a John Gittings, a fellow exorcist who just died, mostly as a favor to the man’s widow. Another woman also hires Castor to prove that her husband didn’t rape and murder a male prostitute, and he soon finds that the two cases are related.

Dead Men’s Boots is part urban fantasy thriller and part hardboiled detective novel. Castor, a tough guy from Walton, Liverpool, is a cynical and sarcastic narrator. He has a dry sense of humor and Carey writes him with a very British style. The author just has a certain way with words that I really enjoyed. Take, for example, the way Castor describes the succubus: “It was Juliet. Vivid, ineffable, irreducible Juliet, a bookmark in the stodgy, samey script of the world that always let you find your place.” Carey has created a spooky world that begs interesting questions about life, death, and the ever after.

Dead Men’s Boots is the third novel to feature Felix Castor, but the first I’ve read. This left me with a slight disadvantage regarding some of the characters and references to previous events, so I would recommend reading Vicious Circle and The Devil You Know first. I think this book would appeal to fans of paranormal thrillers, but also to those who enjoy noir detective novels. Books 4 and 5 in this series are already available in the UK, so look for them to come to the US soon.

Buy Dead Men’s Boots by Mike Carey on Amazon by clicking here.

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