Dead Stare by M. R. Forbes

ForbesDeadStareWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Jeff Hays

Publisher: Quirky Algorithms (2016)

Length: 7 hours 19 minutes

Series: Book 3 Ghosts & Magic

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 3 in the series and it is best to have read the previous books to understand the rules of magic for this series and the characters’s various motivations. Plus, they’re damn entertaining!

Conor Night, a cancer-riddled necromancer assassin, thinks he’s sitting in a good place. His previous job left him well funded, no one is currently hunting him, and the stolen cancer meds are working better than ever. That is until Mr. Black and Death team up to leave him without a virtual reality operator and force him on the run again.

It’s another wild ride in the world of Conor Night, AKA The Baron. While refilling his cancer med stash, he comes across Frank Dobson, who is half troll, half ogre and completely ticked off at being experimented on. Against Conor’s better judgement, he sort of rescued Frank and Frank then steals his money to buy pants. Obviously, once two people have been through that kind of fuss, they have to be comrades. However, as quickly as Conor came across this new ally, someone has kidnapped Prythi, his VR tech guru, away from him. He’ll have to make do with Prythi’s girlfriend Myra, who doesn’t really like him and is a bit distraught over the whole ordeal. I had 2 tiny quibbles with this book and they both dealt with Myra: 1) Sometimes she sounds just like Dani from Book 1 and I think the author must have regretted removing her from the series so soon; 2) At one point Myra reveals something pretty personal about herself to Conor at an awkward moment and it didn’t really make sense that she would confide in him.

OK. Now that I have my two tiny criticisms out of the way, I can tell you how much fun I had with this book. The action is sprinkled with moments of dark humor and Conor doing a bit of introspection, so I never got battle fatigue.  Also, I am really starting to like Conor even though he can be quite the jerk at times. He knows he’s done some very questionable things and in this book he really starts to question if he has the right to do those things even in the name of caring for his estranged family. Plus, he’s a smart-ass. I always love the smart-ass.

Frank was an unexpected breath of fresh air to the series. He’s got an almost child-like attitude about all this magic and assassins and stealing stuff and high-powered magical creatures. He’s yet one more victim in Mr. Black’s schemes to find the source of the magic and either control it or wipe it out. Conor won his fierce loyalty when he freed him from years of captive experimentation. As a troll-ogre cross (trogre), he can take quite the beating and heal quickly from nearly anything that leaves a mark.

Tarakona, who we met in Book 2 Dead Red, is back and has a task for Conor as well. Mr. Black is keeping a murky character known as Sandman captive in his secret lair. Tarakona wants Conor to retrieve Sandman and hand her over to him for safe keeping. However, Sandman has been contacting Conor through the VR on her own arguing for her independence from either party. If Conor wants to see Prythi again, then he will have to liberate Sandman from Mr. Black. He can figure out the rest from there.

The magic of the world is creepy. Well, Conor is a necromancer so there is the use of dead cats and little kids to act as spies. His powers grow as he gets closer to death and some of his new powers freak out his allies a little bit. Forbes surprised and delighted me once again with a surprise at the ending. Conor will need therapy after this. The last two hours of the book I simply did not want to put it down. I had to know what Amos’s angle was. I needed to see how much Tarakona knew. I wanted to find out more about Sandman and why she was so vague about herself. I hoped Frank would get a date. That last remains to be seen. Another excellent addition to this urban fantasy series!

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  Jeff Hays continues to set a high standard for narrations. Once again, I loved his uber-creepy voice for the demon in the bone mask. His voice for Tarakona is perfect – exactly what I would expect an ancient and impatient dragon to sound like. Each character is distinct and Hays does a fantastic job getting even the subtle emotions across to the listener. I especially like that he goes the extra mile and makes phone conversations sound like they are happening on a phone or on an ear piece.

What I Liked:  Conor continues to grow in character;  the new addition of trogre Frank; Conor pushed and pulled all sorts of ways by these powerful entities; Tarakona’s hideaway home; great narration!

What I Disliked:  Myra now sounds like Dani sometimes.

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