Review: Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold

Book Details and Links

Author: Luke Arnold
Publisher: Orbit
Page Count: 464

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Synopsis

A former soldier turned PI solves crime in a world that’s lost its magic in this brilliant sequel to actor Luke Arnold’s debut The Last Smile in Sunder City.

The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need?

Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure.

Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot.

Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley.

What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back.

Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world.

But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder.

Review

Luke Arnold treats us to another dark, gritty and edge of your seat urban fantasy with Dead Man in a Ditch, the second instalment of the Fetch Phillips Archives.

If you have not yet read The Last Smile in Sunder City I would highly recommend you do. It reignited my love for urban fantasy and I could not wait to get hold of a copy of Dead Man in a Ditch. Oh boy was I not let down.

The second instalment of the series is set once again in the well crafted Sunder City. Not much has happened to Sunder since our last visit. It is still the same old run down heap of melancholy and pessimism that it was during our first voyage down its dark, dusty alleys. This time round we get a better glimpse of the underbelly of Sunder’s darker side and meet some of the more corrupt and immoral characters. Luke Arnold has continued to build the world of Archetellos and its inhabitants and I really like what he has achieved. I’m a big fan of the end of the world feeling. The more dystopian settings. We get a chance to see a little more of the world and this helps build upon our knowledge of the politics and social economics going on in Archetellos. Let me just say that Sunder city is a whole other league from this rest of the world. 

The Ditch wasn’t warm anymore. Not without the fire. The patrons moved less than they used to. Laughed less. No dancing or folk music, just quite customers drinking jars to block out the memories of better days.”

Fetch Phillips is joined with a few more characters this time round and the author once again proves that he can craft these fantastic characters that are 100% believable in the setting and their actions. Prepare yourself for a little heartache in Dead Man in a Ditch. Luke Arnold does not hold back when it comes to throwing everything he can at Fetch and the team. I did get somewhat watery eyed during the later chapters but you will have to find out why for yourself. I’m not in the business of spoilers. 

“In a way, I was happy to be taken out of it all. To be locked up where I couldn’t do anymore damage. The real world was too confusing. To hard to navigate. Too easy to screw up.”

The overall tone of Dead Man in a Ditch is rather melancholic so it comes as a nice surprise when little snippets of humour are found throughout. I really do enjoy a little bit of humour in my reads. The darker the content the better the humour comes across and Dead Man in a Ditch has a good helping of gallows humour. 

“Shut your face, Fetch. I’m not done yet.”
“Half your ass is hanging out!”
“That’s only a problem for whoever’s behind me.”

If you are a fan of The Last Smile in Sunder City then you will thoroughly enjoy what Dead Man in a Ditch has to offer. Even though you could read this book as a stand-alone, and still enjoy it, I would highly recommend reading the first instalment as there are some very nice connections between the two books and without the background and feel that provides the story wouldn’t hold as much weight. 

Luke Arnold has a nice take on urban fantasy and the story is doused with a well rounded magical system and a host of different creatures however I found a little lull during the middle section that almost lost the fantasy aspect and was more urban thriller than urban fantasy. This does pick back up again and does so well. Things quickly escalate in the second half of the book and I want to warn you that you will be on the edge of your seat. I stayed up rather late in the night because I just couldn’t put the book down. I had to see how it finished and it finished very, very well. 

I want to leave you with one last quote from Dead Man in a Ditch which also added a little humour…

“Today’s as good a day as any to stop being a prick.”

Professional Reader

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