Underground Reading: The Deryni Trilogy by Katherine Kurtz

Underground Reading: Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey

Mike Carey Dead Men's Boots Dead Men's Boots is the third book in the Felix Castor series, written by famed comic book writer Mike Carey. Best known for his work on Lucifer and Hellblazer, Carey's series poaches creative elements from both those titles. 

Felix Castor is a London exorcist. For no clearly defined reason, the dead have started to rise again - in a wide variety of terrifying forms (ghosts, zombies, werethings, etc). Worse yet, demons and devils are real - summoned by suicidal warlocks to stalk the streets. Although Carey hints towards a broad, apocalyptic metaplot, the series is skillfully composed of individual mysteries, each featuring the restless dead.

In Dead Men's Boots, Castor is hired by a unhappy wife to get prove her husband's innocence (apparently he beat a rent boy to death with a hammer). Simultaneously, Castor is unhappily bequeathed some esoteric notebooks from a fellow exorcist. The two mysteries swiftly become connected, and Castor begins to unravel a disturbing conspiracy.

Fans of Felix's friends and allies won't be disappointed. The ambitious cop Coldwood, the paranoid zombie Nicky and the alluring-but-scary demon Juliet are all involved - Juliet taking her most significant role so far. Carey also introduces a few new characters, including a horde of undead gangsters and a slightly different demon, the enigmatic Moloch. 

Carey does strong work building out Juliet. Introduced as a bit character in the first book, the former succubus now has a life of her own. The author does a good job fleshing her out as an interesting, evolving character. She finds the world totally alien, but is having a good time exploring it - even as human beings (and the relationships between them) continue to mystify her. 

Carey's long-time friend Pen, and their unfortunate mate Raf (possessed by the demon Asmodeus), take a step back. Although Castor encounters them both briefly, they're less involved in this particular adventure. After the focus on them both in the previous book, this is a welcome break, and shows that Carey isn't a one-trick pony.

Mike Carey has successfully shown that he's a riveting author, no matter the medium. Deftly balancing character and story-telling, Carey has created a terrific framing device for presenting mysteries, with a cast of fascinating characters to help tell them.

Tube journeys: 4
Rating: 664 (neighbor to the beast)