Cover of Dial D for Deadman by Barry J Hutchison

Dial D for Deadman is a superbly executed hybrid: part noir detective novel, part paranormal mystery, part comedy. The action takes place on a popular interstellar crossroads called Parloo, in the gritty, downtrodden surface city known to its inhabitants as Down Here.

Our hero is Dan Deadman, deceased detective at large. Between ne’er-do-wells opening portals to the Malwhere, interdimensional amnesiacs, and a missing-persons case with an exceptionally gory twist, Dan quickly finds himself up to his eyeballs in trouble.

At times like this, he’d give his left nut to be a real detective. If he still had nuts.

There’s also the matter of Dan’s outstanding debts, and the fact that due to his line of work he’s losing bits and pieces almost faster than his surgeon friend, Nedran, can patch him back together. How Dan found himself among the undead, and the fact that this is not normal occurrence Down Here, is never fully explained. While I’m curious about the circumstances surrounding his demise (and I’m hoping they’ll be visited later in the series,) Dan has a succinct explanation for his state:

“Death is normal. Coming back from it, not so much. I stopped thinking about the why, and started taking it for what it was.”

Which is a pretty good life philosophy when you think about it, especially if you happen to be a badass pain-immune tank of an undead detective.

Deadman offers all the seedy grimness of a classic noir detective novel, right down to the narration, but with a science fiction twist and plenty of well-placed dark humor. Amidst the ugliness of Down Here, Dan’s an easy guy to root for. No one else seems to be trying make the world a better place, and his dogged pursuit of justice– not to mention his willingness to put himself in harm’s way– make him a natural hero. Or perhaps an antihero, since our protagonist isn’t above resorting to physical persuasion when the situation calls for it– which is often.

It’s been a long time since a book made me laugh, cheer, and wince in sympathy as hard or as often as this one did. Dial D for Deadman isn’t just funny– it’s drop-dead hilarious. Humor and vigilante justice are two things my world is always in need of, and this scifi noir comedy absolutely delivers!

Dial D for Deadman is available from Amazon in ebook, paperback, and audio book formats.

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