Dead Streets
by Tim Waggoner
Reviewed by I.E. Lester

Matt Richter is a former Cleveland cop, turned zombie P.I. Because of his somewhat unique status he's traded his hometown for the demon dimension Nekropolis (where all the supernatural beings fled when mankind grew powerful).

However his do-gooder ways don't always stand him in good stead in this demon realm and his previous adventures have brought him a significant number of enemies. And it seems one of them has decided it's payback time. Richter is kidnapped, decapitated (not a fatal blow for a zombie) and his body used in a heist.

Deemed guilty by the Adjudicator, a kind of judiciary in Nekropolis, Richter is exiled to Tenebrus - the hell dimension's equivalent of hell (pretty bad, in other words). So now he has to avoid being killed (permanently) by all the creatures he caused to be exiled in his previous adventures, escape and clear his name. Not so easy, you might think. Fortunately he has also made friends?

Waggoner walks the line between horror action and comedic content superbly. Okay, there are very few out and out laughs here, but everything is tongue in cheek. It's more of a smirk-producer. But it still maintains a taut plot, one with definite moments of tension and with a decent twist or two thrown in for good measure.

Matt, as a former human and transplant from our world, is our mirror to this bizarre world. He places our values and outlook on a very different world. He's ably supported by a backing-team of decent second tier characters: his girlfriend Devona (a vampire), Tavi (a genetically-enhanced lycanthrope), Scorch (fire-demon) and Bogdan (warlock) who, since the events of book one, have teamed up to form a private investigations agency.

Nekropolis is a breath of fresh air to horror fiction. Okay, there have been plenty of comedic horror stories before but Waggoner has taken it a step further and built a Terry Pratchett style demon dimension. It has that same off-the-wall feel as the Discworld - a bizarre, somewhat silly but in a serious way, invented world populated by humorously twisted versions of 
all our favourite monsters. (As well as wonderful demonic versions of many day-to-day items and institutions - mobile phones, taxicabs and all manner of the familiar get a great dark make over).

Like Pratchett, Waggoner is not averse to incorporating characters from other popular stories. Where the former included the Phantom of the Opera (amongst others) Waggoner here tips his hat to Mary Shelley. One of the most powerful of Nekropolis folk is Victor Baron - Frankenstein's Monster as was. Baron has taken on the work of his creator and now builds his 
reconstituted corpses to act as bouncers, security guards etc.

Given the two centuries of horror fiction he's got plenty of source material to play with Nekropolis is a series that could grow stronger and stronger.

Dead Streets
by Tim Waggoner
Publisher - Angry Robot
ISBN - 978-0-00-732387-6
415 pages
April 2010