Author ~ Boom Baumgartner
Publisher ~ Less Than Three Press
Published ~ 15th February 2017
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M, Urban Fantasy
Israel Leventhal can speak to the dead. This brings some interesting jobs his way, but his latest job leaves him a little more nervous than he likes, so he calls in a reinforcement: his best friend George, who can also talk to the dead. When the job goes as badly as he feared it would, Israel is driven to drastic lengths to survive it—lengths that change how he sees the man he's always called his best friend.
There aren’t many books that lead up to then deal with the aftermath of a protagonist’s death. It’s a brave storyline for any author to take, but this author is nothing if not brave.
First a little about the world building. In this universe the existence of ghosts is accepted, if not widely known, and mediums are used to communicate with them to recover information lost when they died. The process is unpleasant and terribly dangerous for the medium unless he has reliable back-up. I am sure that this world has government departments set up to ensure that military/espionage/political personnel are cremated as soon as possible after death and that every effort is made to recover bodies, but that official and regulated world doesn’t come into the story. Instead, Israel Leventhal and his friend and occasional partner George Rose are freelancers, operating on the edge of criminality and sometimes stepping over into the terrifying world of thugs for hire and mob kingpins. “Dead men tell no tales” doesn’t cut any ice with Israel and George. Ghosts may not be able to be hurt physically but they can endure any amount of pain so torture is a possibility. And there are steps that can be taken, post-interrogation, to ensure that the ghost never speaks again.
To be honest, it seems a really revolting job. The protagonists are privy to lethal secrets and their lives are in almost constant jeopardy from the men and women who hire them. Their pay isn’t good, and since what they are doing isn’t legal they often have to fight for their money. In fact it’s hard to understand why they would do it, other than that not using their ‘gifts’ can cause pain and mental instability.
The constant get-wrenching danger, the need to work plus a good deal of pride lead them into doing things that, frankly, invite very little sympathy. But their actions are often the only way out for them and proceed logically from their situations.
So it’s a fascinating world and Israel and George are striking and unusual characters. I enjoyed the point made that Israel and George learned slightly different conventions, terminology, and methods of working – as seems logical bearing in mind that George learned his craft in England. I also enjoyed the diversity – neither protagonist is white and their relationship isn’t sexual. Please bear in mind that the book is tagged as an urban fantasy and as paranormal by the publisher – not paranormal romance. The relationship between George and Israel is well depicted with a lot of genuine feeling on both sides but definitely no hearts and flowers.