“Coming back from the dead feels less like a miracle than like waking up with the world’s most debilitating hangover.”
Urban Fantasy has this fixation with stupid characters, action heroes who run blindly into the fire, not a care in the world. Call it bravery; doesn’t matter if you’re limbs are torn from you by a gruesome monster. Or you’re burnt to a crisp by the ill-advised actions. But no. These protagonists are never harmed, never wrong, and always win with a ton of dumb luck.
Naturally, I expected a novel where the main character can die without (much) harm to remove a majority of the tension from the novel. That’s partially right. But stupidity is largely eradicated from the writing.
The pacing does suffer in the beginning. This isn’t so much from my reservations with the characters as it is the repetition.
Multiple times in the same chapter, I was bombarded with the idea that the box is very, very important. Every other chapter, to boot. I don’t need this hammered in my head. And it’s not just with this. Info-dumping was a big problem, whether it be in exposition ala internal monologues or dialogue. The latter was my biggest peeve. I mean, whole histories are given through long, drawn-out conversations.
And don’t even get me started on the repetitive dialogue tags. “Said” should not be used every time someone is speaking. Yes, people argue that it can easily be skimmed, to which I do, but that creates lazy writing.
“Did nothing stay dead the way it was supposed to in this damn world?”
The many, many internal dialogues hampered the pace as well. It gets better as the novel progresses, but not by much. It was annoying, especially when the core plot could easily be a fast paced thriller.
Therein lays another gripe. Kaufmann drags out the scenes for every inch. He milks them far longer than they should be. This novel could be cut down to under three hundred pages, and I doubt it would’ve harmed it in the grand scheme of things.
Alas, it’s too late now.
Moving onto characters.
The main protagonist was, what you could loosely define as, a thug with hints of intelligence. He’s an amnesiac. He’s competent with a gun and doesn’t lose all of his wits when the gargoyles come to take his lunch money. It’s refreshing, to say the least. Throw in a zombie and controlling romantic interest, and you have a nice burning trio.
Kaufmann does a swell job in characterization, it’s just he doesn’t take that next step. We are told what some people are, but not shown. Nothing really wrong, just minor nitpicks.
However, all the fluff wasn’t something I could tolerate for more than four hundred pages. Luckily, this novel clocks in right under the mark. It had a strong beginning, dark, haunting, and noirish. The usage of a MacGuffin was interesting, but was knocked over the head way to much.
The action could be clouded at times, but at least it brought the pace up significantly.
This lends itself to strong visuals, somewhat, and decent characterization. But any novel should be able to stand on its writing alone, considering the medium. Dying Is My Business sadly lacks that major point. Fans of the first Dresden novels, to which I despised, will find this to be a stronger UF beginning. But like all “fun” books, it has its flaws. A popcorn read, if you will.
“Death was a constant, the only constant—and yet even death had rejected me.”
*I received this ARC for my honest opinion.*