I was sent this to review by Alison & Busby publishers, and I can’t even explain how excited I was when it dropped onto the doormat. Everybody who came near me that day was informed with a high-pitched squeal of the new book I’d just received and how much I’d loved Rachel Caine’s previous books. So, a huge thank you to Alison & Busby and a huge apology to all friends and family who have been anywhere near me this week.
It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it – dead or alive. Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn’t the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment – until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele. Now Bryn faces being terminated…literally. Bryn is given the chance to take down the bigger problem, pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She’d better do it fast before she becomes a zombie slave. A real working stiff.
And was it worth all the excitement? Completely and utterly. I absolutely loved this book – an original concept, realistic characters and an action-packed plot. What more can you want from a book really?
So Bryn (and I have no idea how to pronounce that?) starts work at Fairview Mortuary only to discover that her new boss is selling a special rehabilitating drug to his clients. And that’s client’s as in, the dead bodies; just so you know. When Bryn finds out, he attempts to silence her permanently… only the company that makes the drug manages to bring her back. Unfortunately it’s only temporary – Bryn needs an injection every day or else she’ll decay slowly and painfully, and the company are threatening to withdraw the drug if she doesn’t find the leak soon.
What I liked particularly about this book was Bryn herself. She’s absolutely nothing special in any way – which is brilliant. She doesn’t have magical powers, massive physical strength or an array of powerful contacts – she’s just like you and me and reacts exactly the way we would. Okay, so she’s had military training, but it’s realistic in that even the most badass training won’t get her out of having a gun pointed at her head. One of the flaws most prominent in paranormal-esque books is the way main characters tend to immediately and completely accept whatever’s happening to them, whether it’s zombies, newfound powers, apocalyse, whatever. Bryn isn’t like that. The prospect of being dead and slowly decaying freaks her out and I have to give her points for that. God knows I’d be freaking out too.
I loved the characters of Joe and Patrick, although I was a little bothered by the InstaRomance. We’re told that she and Patrick are falling in love, but we never actually see it happen. One minute she thinks he’s cold and stand-offish and the next she’s lusting after him from afar. There wasn’t really a build-up, it just happened. Still, when their relationship got going, I was a fan of it. I’d happily go to a seedy motel with that man!
“No.” She gasped, and fisted her hands in the collar of his suit. “That was me. Going to be me.”
“No. Bryn, you’re alive; hear me? And I won’t let that happen to you. I won’t. I swear it.”
“You saw; she could still feel-“
His voice turned fierce. “I won’t let it happen. I will never let you suffer, Bryn. Believe that, even if you never believe anything else about me.”
Mm. There’s a lot of action in this book and that serves to keep the plot going at a nice, fast clip. A lot of it is brutal too – not in an ‘over-the-top, that just wasn’t necessary way,’ but some it still made me cringe regardless. I like that though; sometimes books feel a little unreal if they sugarcoat the violence.
I’m absolutely dying (pun intended: sorry!) for the next book to come out, although I know it won’t be for ages yet. In the meantime, I came across the Weather Warden series by the same author when I was looking at this one online. I hadn’t even known that series existed, so I’ll be keeping an eye out when I eventually scrape some money together. I highly, highly recommended you read Working Stiff – it’s one of the best urban fantasy books I’ve read all year.