Publication Date: September 27, 2016
In Old Haunts, Dave and Mel are struggling to get back to a common ground after the events at the end of “Paper Cuts.” With the big bad revealed and his surely devastating plan not clear, can Dave stop the horror that will inevitably descend on London? Death and his office staff, Dave and Anne, are ready to kick this saving-the-world thing into high gear.
Old Haunts is the final installment in the “How to be Dead” series.
I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my review.
“Anne picked her mobile phone up off of the bedside table. A text message from Death. ‘I’VE JUST HAD A KIT KAT THAT WAS ALL CHOCOLATE AND NO WAFER. WHERE’S YOUR PRECIOUS SCIENCE NOW.’” (PDF edition, page 49).
A lot of authors say, “My work is like (insert famous author),” and when the book is read, it either couldn’t be more different or is so similar to the better-known author’s work as to be actionable. Dave Turner’s work is reminiscent of Terry Pratchett. I say that without equivocation and secure in the knowledge that anyone who has read both authors will acknowledge the shared flavor in their unique universe. Pratchett has a slightly medieval feeling in his Discworld series while Turner’s book highlights a modern setting, but the irreverent heart shares a spirit that is just fun to read.
The character of Death really stays true to who he was in the first two books. In his third novel, Turner takes the opportunity to wisely expand the characters of Anne and Dave. We get to look back into how they started, and how they came to be the people that face what they do and come out sane. Turner also expands on the relationship between Death and Anne and how it evolved over time. Both Death and the bad guy are wonderfully absurd and irreverent without coming off as ridiculous. Turner’s humor within the characters is smart and razor sharp. I have been following Turner on social media and envy the absurdist wit he shares with the primary immortal. Death’s dedication to all things human and his very real quirks make him a character that readers will love.
In Old Haunts, Mel is recovering from the events of the previous novel and the realization that she doesn’t know the man she thought she knew so well. The character stands outside of the inner circle and is an observer of sorts. She can’t tell anyone about Dave, and yet their whole lives have changed, and she’s still seeing herself as someone in it for the long haul. Turner’s treatment of this character is so smart in that Mel is not absorbing the blow of information and coasting with it but really processing what she now knows on an elemental level. She wants to know more about Dave and his different ability. She understands that he’s doing work that is potentially traumatic and is involved in a world she can’t know, although she tries to be supportive.
The bad guy, and I won’t spoil his identity, is brilliantly pragmatic. The events of previous books revealed him and his motivations and are still somewhat mysterious. Turner gives us an illusion of insight when we see the story from his perspective, but his interactions are ominous if not definitive. It would be easy for the main plotline to be overshadowed by the day-to-day interaction of strong characters, but Turner’s subtle treatment of the bad guy and his attempts to manipulate Dave and the whole of London shine through and make for a fascinating, as well as entertaining, read.
These days I own few physical books. A few years ago I brutally sheared down my collection of several hundred books to a few dozen favorites that I love to see on the shelves and remember the joy of discovering those authors. The wonderful humor of Old Haunts caps a phenomenal series that I’m going to have to get in paperback. Turner’s style is perfect for this reader and exactly the sort of tongue-in-cheek work and clever whimsicality for which I live. If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett or just love a good and funny read, pick up this book and the rest of the series today. You are missing out if you don’t catch up with Death and the gang right away.
Read an excerpt and buy Old Haunts by Dave Turner on
Dave Turner is an award-winning writer whose work has featured on the web sites of BBC News, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Huffington Post and FHM. For three years, he wrote the Army of Dave blog, which was named one of the top 10 U.K. Comedy Blogs by Cision Media. He won the 2011 London Screenwriters’ Festival Best Screenplay Award with his short film script “Everything You Need.”