Kirkus Reviews, notoriously, hates everything, so I take the fact that they’re merely lukewarm about Dying Is My Business as high praise! Here’s their review:
An amnesiac discovers he can’t stay dead in Kaufmann’s entry into the urban-fantasy realm.
Trent, a man who has no last name and no past that he can remember, dies often but fails to remain dead. Every time someone murders Trent, he pops back to life. Most would think that’s a pretty decent deal, but Trent is filled with remorse because his rebirth is contingent on someone else dying: usually, the person who is closest to him at the time. That’s bad enough when it’s the one who kills him, but sometimes an innocent gets the short end of the stick, and, no matter what Trent is, he does have a conscience. He also has a short memory that goes back no more than a year in the past; that’s when Underwood, the shadowy individual who has made him part of his team, found him and gave him a home in a dirty room with a single bed. Underwood promises to find out who Trent really is and why he can’t die but keeps putting it off. While Trent is on a mission to retrieve a box that Underwood wants, he blunders into a battle between a pair of odd individuals and a flock of murderous gargoyles. That’s where Trent meets Thornton, the undead werewolf, and Bethany Savory (yes, that’s her name), a tiny woman with pointy ears. They lead Trent to others who are on the same quest, including magicians, vampires and various magical creatures. Together they all face a terrible power backed by a growing army of the dead in a battle to save New York, thus setting up a future confrontation in a story yet to come.
Although Kaufmann writes well, unlike the innovative works of masters of the genre like Mike Carey and Neil Gaiman, his work tends to rely heavily on clichéd, by-the-numbers plotting.
That last sentence threw me. Not because the reviewer thinks the plot is clichéd — every critic responds differently to different things — but because the sentence is poorly structured, leading me to think at first that the reviewer was saying Mike Carey and Neil Gaiman do not write well. Which is absurd. I had to read the sentence twice over before what I assume is its true meaning revealed itself: that Carey and Gaiman’s work is not clichéd. Which is more like it.
Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.