Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars
Trent is a man who cannot die. Well he can, he just doesn’t stay dead. Instead something inside him steals the life force from the nearest person, killing them and reviving him. He also has no memory of his life before the last 12 months, Trent isn’t even his real name. It was given to him by his employer, Underwood, a dangerous crime lord operating in New York City. In exchange for Trent’s talent at collecting things (i.e. thieving) Underwood promises Trent his heart’s desire: answers.
If Trent can collect a mysterious box on his latest mission, Underwood has agreed to finally open up. It should be simple, but what Trent discovers on this journey will alter everything he knows, not just about himself but the very world he lives in. Soon he will be faced with a choice: What’s more important, who he was or who he wants to be?
Trent starts the book a lost man, frustrated with his lack of memory and tortured by the lives he feels he’s stolen. Even though he hates the acts he does at the command of Underwood he feels a debt toward the man who has given him some place in the world. He’s also desperate for answers. On his mission to retrieve the box he inadvertently stumbles across another group also trying to secure it. Locked in a deadly battle with gargoyles, Trent helps them, hoping they may lead him to the mystery artifact. The more time he spends with them and sees their abilities though, the more he starts to realize they may hold more answers than Underwood ever could.
Dying is My Business is a really great example of an urban setting mixing brilliantly with a high fantasy element. The contrast between the gritty criminal underworld Trent is working in against the almost fairy-tale mythical world he stumbles upon makes for a vivid read. The action sequences had a sense of realism yet were at the same time magical. One particular scene, where Trent is being pursed through Times Square by a medieval knight on horse back, jumped straight off the page into my imagination in wonderful Technicolor.
The mystery of the box was definitely interesting, but what really had me turning the page was the mystery of Trent. As more enemies appear and mythology is unveiled, there is a real sense that he could be something hugely powerful, and not necessarily good. The creatures and environments were beautifully detailed, fresh and at times pretty terrifying. Trent’s character development is weaved throughout and I found myself desperately rooting for him to find not just answers but also a home.
He’s inability to die can make him reckless at times, but the ramifications terrify him. He struggles to trust the new relationships he is making but the point is he wants to. Plus Underwood isn’t exactly the type of boss you just walk away from. There is a slight romantic theme, as Trent finds himself drawn towards Bethany (one of the group members) but he has a unique relationship with each of them, striving to work through his lack of self worth and be proud of his actions.
Dying is My Business reminded me of The Bourne Identity with a massive fantasy kick. It’s infused with intrigue, danger and a sense of magical discovery. I purposefully haven’t gone too much into the plot because I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery; I will say I was surprised on more than one occasion. I’m not sure if is the first in a planned series but I seriously hope this isn’t the last we will see of Trent.
Sexual content: Kissing