Trent Jamieson: Steven de Selby #2: Managing Death

Meet Steven de Selby. As the newly-appointed Regional Manager for the Australian branch of Mortmax Industries, he’s responsible for making sure everyone who dies in his area does so properly, all the while keeping the otherworldly Stirrers from claiming the corpses as their own. Luckily, he has a crack team of Pomps, both human and avian, to handle the majority of the caseload, while he deals with paperwork and organizing the upcoming Death Moot. Unfortunately, it’s never that easy. The other twelve Regional Managers are a bunch of backstabbing murderers, the ancient god of the Stirrers is slowly approaching, and Steven’s way behind on his training. Oh yes, a newly created government agency is dogging his footsteps, and there’s a madman stalking Steven with deadly intent. When you’re in the business of death, there’s no golden parachute.

Now, Steven has to stay alive long enough to organize the most important business conference of his life, maintain a somewhat rocky relationship with his girlfriend Lissa, and find a way to prevent a global apocalypse. Success isn’t going to be pretty.

Picking up not long after the end of Death Most Definite, this book continues the epic rise (or fall?) of a man constantly thrown into situations well beyond his understanding. He only survived the previous episode through luck, stubbornness, and the underestimation of his enemy. This time, he’s really in for some rough patches and bloody moments. There’s just something about this series that captures the imagination. Whether it’s the nifty, intriguing way in which Jamieson delivers a mythos built around life and afterlife, bureaucracy and blood, or the engaging tone of the narrator, there’s no denying that this urban fantasy is something new and different. A lot happens here, and it’s all leading towards something epic. There’s no second-volume-filler syndrome here, just a fast-paced rocketing from one crisis to the next. You can see the scope gradually escalating as each new facet of the story is revealed.

Managing Death is good stuff. Sometimes brutal, sometimes philosophical, often unpredictable, it’s thoroughly enjoyable, and worth checking out.

(Orbit, 2011)

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