Friday, April 01, 2005
Secret Dead Men -- Duane Swierczynski
And now for something completely different. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that Duane Swierczynski's Secret Dead Men is the goofiest book I've read this year. And I mean that in a good way. I don't think it belongs to a genre. It's sort of its own genre, a blend of SF and mystery like none other I've run across. I'll try to describe it, but (trust me on this) I'm not doing it justice. Del Farmer, the narrator, has the ability to gather souls. That's right. He can gather them from the recently dead, or even the living. (With the living it takes eye contact. And that's all I know about that.) When the souls are gathered, they reside in Farmer's brain, in what he calls the Brain Hotel, a simulacrum of the world of the living. He can talk to them, drink brain Chivas with them, or do anything else he pleases. He can even send his own soul into another body (eye contact again), should the occasion demand it, and you can bet that it will. Del is out to smash "the Association," which he believes to be something like the Mafia, and he's gathering some souls to help out. Things take a detour when one of the souls, from a guy named Brad, refuses to help unless Del solves Brad's murder. And after that, things really get complicated.
This is not your father's mystery novel. It's wild, weird, and very entertaining. PointBlank is going a great job of bringing out books like this, books the Big Boys probably wouldn't take a chance on. But PointBlank did, and you should, too.