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Monday, October 6, 2014

Kevin J Anderson on Fighting For Others' Rights

You never know who you'll encounter
when you're with Dan Chambeaux.

In his novel Death Warmed Over, Kevin J Anderson introduces us to Dan Chambeaux. Unlike some other fictional detectives, such as Hercule Poirot and Thomas Magnum (of Magnum P.I.), Dan doesn't spend the novel pursuing a single mystery, nor does he limit himself to two cases. Instead, he juggles a number of mysteries, and with his partner Robin Deyer, helps protect the rights of additional worthy parties. But then, he's not a normal private investigator. He was shot in the head, buried in a cemetery, and then clawed his way out of the ground to continue his firm's investigation. He didn't even take a day off to relax and get used to his new status as a zombie. That's how dedicated Dan Chambeaux is to solving mysteries and fighting for other people's rights.

When I previously mentioned Dan, I had only read a quarter of Death Warmed Over. I wrote because I was enjoying his first novel so much, and also wanted to alert you to a limited time offer from the publisher to download the ebook for free. Suffice it to say that I never stopped enjoying Dan's first adventure. I admire his sense of purpose, dedication to his clients, drive to solve cases, and concern for others. If I was a zombie, I'd want to be just like Dan.*

Dan's got a lot on his plate in this first novel. In addition to the cases I mentioned in Kevin J Anderson on Zombies and Ghosts, there's Hope Saldana. Someone's vandalized Hope and Salvation, the mission she operates in the Undead Quarter. She's a member of the living who helps those who have trouble adapting to their new undead status. Dan knows she can't afford to pay him, but he's determined to find out who's broken her doors, windows, and furniture. Then there's Miranda Jekyll, whose husband Harvey is trying to divorce her. Harvey may run Jekyll Lifestyle Products and Necroceuticals, a successful company that caters to the undead, but he wants to cut Miranda off without a penny. He insists that their prenuptial agreement is null and void, as his wife is no longer the same person she used to be. Well, he's got a point: Miranda recently become a werewolf. Still, Dan and Robin see the injustice of the situation, and agree to fight on her behalf.

Consider the plight of Ramen Ho-Tep, a resident of the Metropolitan Natural History Museum. He spent his life ruling Egypt until he was bitten by a tsetse fly. Museum officials consider him their property, but the mummy sees his condition as akin to the slaves over whom he used to rule, and demands emancipation. Or there's Mavis and Alma Wannovich, two local witches who ran afoul of a spell book they recently purchased. An accident turned Alma into a pig (or to be strictly accurate, a sow). The sisters blame the accident on a misspelling, but the publisher insists the book was intended merely for entertainment purposes. And then there's...well, why don't I let you discover them on their own? They all represent problems that would naturally afflict a community after a supernatural event ushers the deceased, mythological creatures, and even garden gnomes into existence. In fact, the rich mix of residents in Dan's Undead Quarter makes the current New Orleans seem colorless in comparison.

Remember, in addition to everything on his plate, Dan's also trying to solving his own murder, and the murder of his former girlfriend, who now works as the firm's secretary. Sheyenne may be a poltergeist now, but he still cares for her. Even if he can't touch her.

The life of a private detective has always been hazardous, and as zombies are no more immortal than the living, the obstacles he faces while pursuing his cases puts his continuing existence at risk. As Dan has always juggled cases, he's got no lack of people with motives to kill him. Sheyenne may believe that Ivory, a vampire lounge singer, slipped her a dose of toadstool poison, but given that Dan started dating her shortly before that, the list of potential suspects and reasons for her death are longer than his own. Still, nothing will stop Dan from heeding the call of justice, whether or not he's getting paid to solve the case or protect the person.

In a world plagued by injustices, I tip my hat to all private investigators everywhere. They especially deserve our praise and respect if, like Hercule Poirot, Magnum P.I., and Dan Chambeaux, they work hard to assist those in need, regardless of their clients' appearance, socio-economic status, or extraordinary biochemistry.

Dragon Dave

*I'd rather not be a zombie, all things considered. At least not until I've lived a long, full life. You know, a good hundred years or so. Then I can die, and reawaken as a zombie if some unexplained event like The Big Uneasy happens. If I meet someone like police Officer Toby McGoohan, whom Dan refers to as McGoo, his BHF, or his Best Human Friend, I might even take up a career as a private detective. Who knows what the future holds? I'd just visit an embalmer to keep looking and feeling my best. Then, when my body needed special attention, I could book an appointment with my local taxidermist. Doesn't that sound better than making hefty payments for health insurance and prescription drugs? 

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