Saturday, July 30, 2011

Indie Book Review: Thaloc Has A Body

Anyone who read the review I did of Death Has A Name knows that I'm a Brodie Wade fan.  He's that perfectly adorable combination of vulnerable, unstable, wounded, and sweet that just makes you want to take him home, clean him up, and make sure he's safe and protected forever.  Basically, if you've got even the tiniest bit of Florence Nightingale in you, you're going to love Brodie.

So, I was immensely pleased to see him come back for Thaloc Has A Body.  In Thaloc Brodie's got a whole new set of mysteries to figure out.  Phil Dawson, his friend the police detective, is stumped.  People are getting killed.  Heaping piles of evidence point to the murderers, but it just doesn't feel right.  Those people are acting innocent and have no motives.  Then the final straw, one of the killers is a dead man.  Phil calls in Brodie, and the two of them start chasing down a killer who can look like anyone, leave hair, fingerprint, and clothing evidence, and is on a killing streak.  Meanwhile, The Truth, Brodie's link to the paranormal, has been pretty well behaved in the wake of Death Has A Body, but well behaved isn't the same thing as silent.  It's telling Brodie his wife and death, who are one in the same, are approaching.  

There were some issues I had with Death, lack of back story, rushed ending, slightly flat secondary characters, all of which I was hoping to see improve in the next book.  And in most of these issues Hanel delivered.  Thaloc takes care of the back story issues.  How did Brodie and Phil get together?  Why are they friends?  What kind of guy is Phil?  All answered beautifully.  Jamie Stanton, who was briefly introduced in Death comes back as well, and she's also nicely rounded out in this one.  Brodie, as always, is a glittering diamond of a character.  And, because the Truth is backing off a bit, we're getting to see what a functional Brodie, a man who's just starting to trust that maybe the world isn't going to explode around him in the next five minutes, looks like.  I like functional Brodie just as much as messed up Brodie.

Pacing is still pretty quick.  Hanel has taken the mantra "Do Not Bore The Reader" to heart.  There is no wasted time in this plot.  If something is happening in the story, it's important.  Pacing is also fast in the sense of how quickly characters developed.  Personally, I'd like to see the character development slow down a little.  But, I'm guessing the target audience for this book will be fine with things fast.

Once again, the ending seems a bit rushed.  Hanel writes a big climax and then sort of skimps on denouement.  There are two major bombs thrown at us at the end of the story and a little time to see Brodie deal with them would be nice. 

We get some romance in this installment which I enjoyed.  I like seeing Brodie happy.  And for most people happy involves more in the way of companionship than a cat.  Granted, I would have expected him to be a bit more shut off, but the romance wasn't totally out of left field.  It is (as I eluded to before) fast.  But not ridiculously fast, no one is declaring undying love on day two of the romance.  And, I'd like to give Jerry some serious points for this, from everything we can tell Brodie is a virgin, which fits his character perfectly.  There is nothing I find more off-putting than running into a socially awkward, emotionally wounded character who as soon as he gets into the bedroom turns into Mr. All-The-Right-Moves-Sex-God!

There was one note in this story that rang false to me.  Phil is the sort of character who's had a very, very bad time with religion in the past and it's left him hostile to the idea of God.  And he's so deeply uncomfortable with the idea of God that it threatens to wedge a rift between him and Brodie.  But he has a sort of no-atheists-in-foxholes moment toward the end of the book.  Now, I know some pretty hardcore atheists, some of whom have been in foxholes, and they tend to get annoyed at the portrayal of when the chips are down they start praying just like everyone else.  Given Phil's back story, and the way he reacted to Brodie and Jamie talking about God, his sudden prayer struck me as more Jerry making a point, than something Phil would genuinely do.

But as quibbles go, that's a pretty minor one.  Once again I fully enjoyed spending time with Brodie.  Once again I can't wait to see what's coming next for him.  The end of Thaloc left a lot of interesting possibilities for our leading man, and I'm looking forward to seeing where he goes.

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