Publication Date: May 12, 2014
Before a spirit is sent to Earth, it decides if after that life is done, it will help people who have reached their “Deadline” pass to the other side. They may bargain for extra time for those they wish to help, and for their loved ones. Anna has been keeping her mother alive by bargaining with another Deadliner to keep his wife alive. Another Deadliner bargains for a rich man to have more time so that he can give his money to a cause that will do some good. When the Deadliners start to go off-script and doing what their human emotions tell them they should instead of following their directive, things go wrong.
The author, Rachel Medhurst, gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Be warned the review that follows is slightly gushing. I adored the concept of this novel, the way it was written and the characters created. The idea of guides to the afterlife is not an uncommon theme. Medhurst sets the theme apart by creating a detailed “Deadline” world. Her spirits are still very much in touch with their earthly emotions and bound to their earthly loved ones. They’ve no control over the assignments they receive so when word comes down that Danny’s wife has reached her deadline, his friends know it will be a very difficult transition. There is a scene in which Anna is watching Danny’s wife, Mia, as she returns home from work and kisses Danny’s picture telling him that she had a horrible day and narrowly evades a drug addled burglar thanks to Anna’s intervention. Mia sees the door open and kisses the window with the knowledge that Danny is always there. The scene is so well written and compelling, and telling of a bond that isn’t simply bound to the mortal world. This reader fell a little more in love with the idea set forth in this book at that moment.
There are rules as a Deadliner pertaining not only to crossing a spirit over, but to their daily life. On Page 33, [easyazon-link asin=”1497563224″ locale=”us”]The Deadliners[/easyazon-link] passing easy when Charlie pulls out a forbidden bottle of wine, and the sense of pleasure from a life nearly forgotten is palpable.
Charlie is with a woman in the next chapter and stays while she undresses and bathe,s witnessing an altercation between her and a man and then comforting her after the exchange. Certainly not within the realm of the rules, but Medhurst seems to use the scenes to show the humanity of the characters. We learn as much about Charlie in that scene as we do most characters in the space of a novel. On page 120, Milly and Reese are witnessing a dire family situation in which a son who is desperate to stop the abuse at the hands of his stepfather threatens to kill the stepfather. This scene is juxtaposed with Milly sitting by the bedside of her own daughter suffering from cancer, and as I write this thinking of this scene, I’m getting emotional. The daughter is confident of her ability to feel Milly with her and takes comfort in her presence. Paul pops in and we know without a doubt that Milly has broken the rules and there could be consequences but what consequence could deter a parent from bringing comfort to their child?
Now there are some moments that push the bounds of believability. When the bad guy writes in a notebook the method of Mia’s passing, that might be a little much. By that point in the novel, I simply didn’t care. I was so focused on following these characters and finding out what happened next that if the bad guy had rented a billboard and posted the way in which he was supposed to kill Mia I would have said, “Yeah, that sounds right”.
While much of the language in the novel reads as English, Medhurst does seem to go out of her way to make the characters multi-national in dialogue, as one would expect of an afterlife read. [easyazon-link asin=”1497563224″ locale=”us”]The Deadliners[/easyazon-link] travel easily through thinking of a location and do their research as to assignments on laptops, so it is easily a world-wide venture and the story has the feel of English speakers from all over the planet.
While much of [easyazon-link asin=”1497563224″ locale=”us”]The Deadliners[/easyazon-link]’s business in the afterlife, the ending is brilliantly handled and the novel is engaging throughout. Everything in the line of business conversation was worth reading, and I did not notice any errors in pacing or in the technical nature of the story that hindered the enjoyment of the work. I would love to read more of this world and these compelling characters though I do not know if Medhurst has planned subsequent works.[easyazon-link asin=”1497563224″ locale=”us”]The Deadliners[/easyazon-link] raises the question of what we would do to help our loved ones if we were able to reach them from beyond the grave. Would we break all of the rules or cling to the idea of destiny? And if all was out of our control and the worst happened, how would that impact us? Medhurst also puts forth the idea that the love, pleasure, pain and sorrow of life don’t end at death’s door for the characters of [easyazon-link asin=”1497563224″ locale=”us”]The Deadliners[/easyazon-link].
Read an excerpt and buy The Deadliners by Rachel Medhurst on:
Rachel Medhurst lives in Surrey, England. [easyazon-link asin=”1497563224″ locale=”us”]The Deadliners[/easyazon-link] is her first novel.