Monday, April 11, 2016

Done But Not Finished: A Review of Daniel Jose Older's Half-Resurrection Blues

 Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba, #1)

It’s been a long three weeks. I tried to plow through a nasty-as-fuck cold by working, reading more books, and keeping up a strict writing schedule, and there’s not much left in the engine (what a surprise). Also, I didn’t manage to get Naked Lunch read, and it’s hiding somewhere in my goddamn house like a total dick, so I can’t get caught up.
                On the happy front, I do have a new book review for your perusal. I’ve been informed by the production calendar that tomorrow is Fall Into a Good Book day, so maybe Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older could fit the bill.
If you’re a fan of gritty urban fantasy/private detective novels in the vein of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim or Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, you could definitely do worse. Older hits all of the satisfying notes, a good location, a witty narrator, lots of fun supernatural baddies, and manages to add a little something to keep the novel from falling down a singularity of tropeitude. Instead of some variety of magician, our narrator, Carlos Delacruz is a half-dead being employed by a shadow organization dedicated to keeping the delicate balance between life and death.
                Older draws on Santeria to build the world Carlos Delacruz inhabits, and I like it. In a lot of the books I’ve read, Santeria and Vudou receive a less than positive portrayal. It’s nice to see Santeros as part of the living spiritual community of Brooklyn, without all of the silly baggage that so often comes along for the ride. It just makes for a much more interesting read.
                Then there’s the question of style. Older’s language frequently crackles. It’s a bit uneven in spots, which is to be expected in a first novel, but he’s got a great ear for dialogue, and his descriptions of Brooklyn are frequently vivid enough to make me downright nostalgic. (I used to live in Crown Heights way back in the day. Let me tell you, it does my heart good to see places I used to haunt written up so well.)
                Half-Resurrection Blues is the beginning of a series. The most recent installment, Midnight Taxi Tango just came out this January. It is already on my massively out of control to-be-read list. (Incidentally, if I go missing, check my house for a large stack of books that smell a bit like dead people, because my TBR is just about ready to implode under its own weight.) I will let y’all know what I think when I get there.