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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Dead To Me - Anton Strout Ghastly, er, ghostly. There are kernels of good ideas here, but for the most part the book is filled with tropes, awkward writing, intrusive explanations and wildly inconsistent characters. I kept putting it down in disgust, but picking it back up because my OCD disorder wanted to know the ending. Tone and Plot: It's like an adolescent male writer is regurgitating Dresden lite, mixed with the Ministry of Magic courtesy of Harry Potter, sprinkled with every stereotype of the male detective in the genre. Simon is the lead character who wears sassy grunge tees and whose back up coat is a long black trench. His weapon is an extendable bat (calling Harry...). He reads pamphlets published by his office with such titles as "Deadside Manner: Staying Cool in Troubled Times." The head of his Other Division is named Brit named Argyle Quimbley, whom we first meet sipping tea through a handlebar mustache (must all semi-humorous characters have 'Q' names and funny facial hair?)Female characters: Unfortunately true to the genre, they are stereotyped beyond belief, usually as the perfect, beautiful, helpless damsel-in-distress, but also the crazy jilted girlfriend. Sometimes, they are both. Actually, the females are just as poorly characterized as the males. When Simon is spying on Jane, one of the "evil cultists," he reads her diary entry written while she was spying (because females always keep diaries). Moreover, she complains in the diary about how her thong is uncomfortable: "something this invasive usually buys me a drink first!" Really? Is that the 14 year old male imagining of what's in a female diary? Because I'm having trouble believing a woman who is rising through the tiers of hierarchy in the cultist organization is writing in a diary... about her underwear.Male characters: Simon, the male character, is inconsistent, sexist and illogical beyond belief. Initial scene in the book, he's about to have sex and flashes on his girlfriend having sex with a random guy. Rather than make a semi-plausible excuse (we've heard them, guys), he let's her think he's been reading her diary. Really? He'd rather be thought a stalker than a psychic freak? Or just a jerk for telling some other lie? Made no sense. Likewise when we go through a detailed passage about bargaining at an antique meet for an Intellivision, we're told this is how he legitimately earns money, by returning meaningful found items to owners. When he finds the owner, instead of just saying "I'm an antiques dealer, and I was hoping to sell it to you for a fair price," he does a weaselly "just happened to find it, no I couldn't take a cent" act and hope for a reward. That's a technique that seems like it would occasionally fall through and result in a loss, while being honest would help establish him as a legitimate businessman doing a legit service. If he wants to be legit, why is he still running his legit business like a con?Simon remains erratic throughout the book. In third scene, we have him meeting his mentor at a ghost sighting. Simon freezes numerous times. Later, Anton has the nerve to have Simon describe himself as "the good cop," and "a quiet person." Yet when they go to a business office to inquire the whereabouts of a stolen item, he's yelling and swinging his bat around like he's going to hurt something, accelerating the questioning process into a major incident. When Tamara, the first angry ex-girlfriend, turns up dead as part of an intimidation plot, she's sent off into the sunset with the lines: "They killed her." "Well, they wouldn't be evil if they did nice things, would they?" Really? That's her epitaph? That's how you show sympathy from the "good guys?" I loved the idea of "psychometry." Plot was semi-interesting, even if we couldn't figure out if the bad guys were corporate businessmen, evil cultists or the Mob. Liked tiny little flashes like the first-aid kit with mummy fingers, the prophet on the subway (wasn't that in Matrix?), and addicts main-lining ghosts. Hate the characters and the characterization. On reflection, I'm wondering if it's supposed to be an urban fantasy farce, along the lines of what Pratchett or Asprin have done with fantasy. Except Pratchett's characters are likeable.