By Stacia Kane
4 of 5 STARS!!!
THE DEPARTED HAVE ARRIVED.
The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.
Downside Ghosts is dark and gritty. I love it. Chess is a debunker for the Church of Truth. Because Facts are Truth you know. What does that mean you ask? Debunkers get cases for huantings and has to figure out if its real or not. The Church will pay the family that makes the claim if there is a true haunting in which case Chess then banishes the ghost to the City of Eternity using magic. If the people making the claim are lying? Well, not so pleasant to lie to the Church.
But back to Chess. She is a junkie, unapologetically so. She's covered with tattoos, has Bettie Page bangs and, to me at least, an I Don't Give a Fuck attitude. She does care though to an extent. I think it's more a safety precaution from being judged, to give off the vibe that how people perceive her doesn't affect her. That attitude paired with her addiction seem to keep her safe from the skeletons in her closet as well. Her past was difficult and sad though we don't get to know too much about it, thanks to the drugs usually keeping her mind elsewhere or indifferent to what has happened. I like Chess. A lot. She's fucked up, she fucks up and finds herself in some real intense situations but keeps her cool. She's unlike any other lead character in a series I have read before. She's a very believable character and the addiction she struggles with is a very real thing that people deal with all the time. Writing this right now I am reminded of Go Ask Alice that I read in grade school. The descriptions of what Chess feels when coming down, how she knows it's time to take more or she'll start the very horrible process of going through withdrawal, is very intense. Through this addiction, she has connections to Bump, or more importantly, Terrible...
Now before I really start on Terrible let me just say how much I love Elvis. Like a lot. My husband teases me when he sees me all doe eyed and giggly when I watch Elvis videos. The authors description of him as ugly is not how I see him. I picture him as a tank of a man that has lived a hard life. Sometimes you can just tell looking at a person that growing up has not been easy whether it be more wrinkles than normal, scars, broken bones. There are events in life that just age people, or make their features a little bit more harsh. But with how he interacts with Chess, we get to see his humor and intelligence as their relationship progresses. And ok, let's not forget the car. A 69 Chevelle? Awesome and I can totally picture this.
Now Lex, I like Lex. But their first encounter is messed up. Even though what happens between them is casual beyond their "business arrangement", I feel like deep down somewhere there is a good guy and that he does care. But more on him in a different book review.
Now some quotes.
“How’re those big sideburns working for you, Terrible? You managed to find yourself a steady ladyfriend yet?”
She's so bad teasing Terrible but I love every minute of it.
“Thought you was good with the spook stuff,” he said. “You look like some dead.”
“And you look like Elvis vomited you up,” she managed. “So?”
Hinges creaked in her ears again as he laughed. “So we both looking bad, guesses. But I do always, and you do never. You right now?”
*sigh* He's adorable
It was strange to see him without a shirt on, though. Chess tended to think of his bowling shirts as armor, and stripped of them he…well, he still looked like a tank.
A surprisingly attractive tank. Tattoos and scars decorated his bare skin and a patch of thick dark hair spread over his chest and dipped down in a thin line to his waist, but underneath them was solid, sculpted muscle, exquisitely delineated, obviously created from real work and not trips to a gym.
He glanced at her, then looked again with an eyebrow cocked, and she realized she was frankly staring. Heat rushed to her face as her fingernails suddenly became fascinating to her. It wasn’t until she heard him saying goodbye that she looked up again.
Mmmm hmmm. I wouldn't be able to stop myself staring either Chess.
“Terrible,” she managed. “You know how to use this thing?”
This entire scene. Wow, just wow. Lots of emotions come in to play with this scene. At the end, I wanted to hug Terrible so bad. Then Chess goes and makes a decision that has serious repercussions down the road.
I won't go into the plot. It was amazing and kept me turning the page. I didn't want to put this down. Not only do I love all the music referenced (Ramones, Misfits, The Stooges, etc.), I love the scene. Punk, Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues in a dive bar setting. I love it.