I'm addicted to Simon R. Green's Ishmael Jones mysteries, but the third one is only on order for us, so I have to wait to read the next one. Dead Man Walking wasn't quite up to the first country house mystery with supernatural overtones, but it was still intriguing.
Here's what Green writes about in his urban fantasies, in this case, "country house mysteries". "There is a world beneath the world; a hidden place of secrets and lies, deception and double-dealing, masquerade and murder. Where people you've never heard of work for departments that don't officially exist, doing things that no one will ever admit to. It can be a fascinating life if you don't weaken, but it's not for the faint of heart." Ishmael Green is not faint of heart, and neither is his companion on this adventure, Penny Belcourt. Frank Parker, who was once a field agent for the Organization, wants to come in from the cold. He says he has information about traitors within the Organization. Parker's under tight security at an isolated location in northern Yorkshire, Ringstone Lodge. The Colonel sends a top field agent, Ishmael, to supervise the security and question Parker.
Once Ishmael and Penny arrive, they find the usual assortment of odd characters, the former military man who supervises the lodge, two security men, two doctors determined to make their names by breaking Frank Parker, a tech person supervising all the computers and security cameras, and, of course, Parker himself. It seems a small group for the large manor, but it becomes even smaller as people are killed, one by one.
As I said, Dead Man Walking was a little weaker than the previous book, The Dark Side of the Road. This time, it was obvious to me who the killer was. Ishmael Green didn't believe it was a ghost, and neither did I. But, the black humor is still there, and I appreciate it. At one point, Penny says, "Because let's face it, if he isn't the killer he might as well have 'Future Victim' tattooed on his forehead." And, when they finally have a chance to explore, she comments, "It's not a proper country-house mystery if there aren't sliding panels and secret passageways. Everyone knows that."
Humor, intrigue, and a pair of well-matched sleuths. Urban fantasy? Mystery? Spy novel? Dead Man Walking is one of those genre-blends that are so popular now. I'm glad Simon R. Green mixes paranormal, mystery, and that delicious black humor.
Simon R. Green's website is www.simonrgreen.co.uk
Dead Man Walking by Simon R. Green. Severn House. 2016. ISBN 9780727886231 (hardcover), 201p.
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