"The dead never bothered me. That honor was reserved for the living."
Hauling dead people around Manhattan is all in a day's work for body mover Gideon Black. He lives in his van, talks to corpses, and occasionally helps the police solve murders. His life may not be normal, but it's simple enough. Until the corpses start talking back.
When Gideon accidentally rescues a werewolf in Central Park, he's drawn into the secret world of the Others. Fae, were-shifters, dark magic users and more, all playing a deadly cat-and-mouse game with Milus Dei, a massive and powerful cult dedicated to hunting down and eradicating them all.
Then a dead man speaks to him, saying that Milus Dei wants him more than any Other. They'll stop at nothing to capture him and control the abilities he never knew he had. He is the DeathSpeaker. He is the key. And he's not as human as he thought...
Life was a whole lot easier when the dead stayed dead.
I had previously read the author's djinn books so I was interested in seeing what she was going to do with the Fae as they are not my favourite magical creature. I was not disappointed!
The book starts with a prologue, featuring a Fae who is trying to find his dead father's human lover before she falls victim to their enemies but he finds her dead. He is able to save her child, his half brother and vows to put him with a human family to keep him safe from the hunters. Intriguing start, and the reader knows that this will form the basis of our MC's back story, even though he doesn't know it yet. I like prologues that set up a story rather than give spoilers so this was fine.
Gideon is nicknamed the Corpse Whisperer by cop Abe Strauss as he is the one who removes bodies from crime scenes and takes them to the mortuary, and can also learn about the crime by touching the body. This time, he realises that the second shredded body in the city was killed by a female and both bodies had the same tattoo. When Abe starts to dig, he is taken off the case. Gideon however, ends up in it up to his neck when he noses about the park and sees a female werewolf being hunted and is almost killed by the man trying to shoot her. When Sadie wolfs out and kills the hunter, his dead body tells Gideon that they are Milus Dei, supernatural hunters and they want Gideon, the Deathspeaker. The plot thickens. Gideon realises that being able to compel dead bodies to answer his questions could be something these hunters would kill to get hold of but he has no idea what to do about it. Sadie decides that they need to get her Fae friend Taeral to help.
I very much liked the characters in this book. Gideon is down on his luck and somewhat anti-social (which I can relate to!), living in his van and quietly getting on with his job. He likes the fact that the dead don't bother him and the only one who knows that he can coax information from the dead is his only friend Abe. Abe is the honest cop who is willing to open his eyes to the supernatural, all be it reluctantly and is happy to get help from Gideon on these strange cases. I would like to see a bit more of his character in later books in the series. Sadie is tough and capable, which I always like in an urban fantasy female MC. I was also very pleased to see that Taeral was a Fae I could actually like. Usually the Fae are cold characters with few redeeming qualities but Taeral is a good character who forms a relationship with his friends.
The bad guys are as bad as you would want. Milus Dei are hunters who kidnap supernaturals to make use of their power. They have sought the Deathspeaker for a long time but have never been able to find him because Gideon was living safe amongst humans. Sadie was able to kill a few of those hunting her but there were too many to evade for long. the Chief of police Foley ensures that Abe is taken off the case when he links the so called wolf attacks to a female killer, so Abe knows to warn Gideon to stay away from Foley who seems anxious to find him.
I liked the way magic was used in the book. Sadie used purchased magic to be able to turn into her wolf whenever she needs to, which has helped to keep her alive so far. Gideon's power comes from compelling the dead to answer his questions but with it being a new skill, he finds that each use takes it toll on him. It was also fun to go into the magical world where Taeral lives, seeing all the people who live there and see a totally different side to the world. We meet some really interesting characters here who choose to ally against the Milus Dei when their home is invaded and their people are taken.
This was a very promising start to a new urban fantasy series and I have snapped up the other books published so far. I liked the characters and the way they interacted with each other as a disfunctional team, and I loved the introduction of the zany sidekicks which added a bit of humour. There was plenty of action in evading the enemy and then plotting to break into their stronghold on a rescue mission. There really was a lot to enjoy about this book. The writing was good, pulling you into the story without the need to be over-descriptive but still drawing you into the world we are visiting. It was an excellent urban fantasy read and I very much look forward to reading more in the series when time allows!