I can only describe Procession of the Dead as a perfectly disposable airport novel: an unchallenging read that will hold your attention when you can’t make shapes out of the clouds out of the cabin windows and won’t cause you worry if you drop it beneath your seat while exiting the plane.
This is a book, similar to its protagonist, that’s suffering an identity crisis. The subject matter contains decidedly mature moment that are clumsily watered down to not shock parents of teenage readers. It can’t decide between a base of adults or teenagers and in trying to please both results in unremarkable writing that has the moment of sincere promise shattered by jarring attempts at fanfare.
The merging of Incan mythos within well-established crime empire tropes comes off as a gimmick to differentiate itself from the crowd, which in itself doesn’t work. The atmosphere of the unidentified city as well as the organization of the Cardinal’s fantastically unrealistic grip of mob power are only drawn up in unoriginal broad strokes that fails to grip readers or offer them any sense of plausible escapism. This book forgoes the complex nature of genre greats of either realistic-fantasy or crime and settles for a mishmash of exhausted elements and characterizations with motivations that change to serve the plot at the moment. It’s hard to be captivated by something as stylistic and thought-provoking as a literary equivalent of a painted bowl of fruit.
It really says something about the author’s abilities when he’s boxed the main character into such a corner that the only escape is a twist ripped right from the infamous Dallas shower reveal, which isn’t to be outdone by the finale not but one chapter later. Stories that skew wildly into utter lunacy can be wickedly entertaining, but only when they lean into the madness. This book never really embraces the madness and only uses it as plot conveniences when smart storytelling isn’t an option. The finale in particular is as much flagrant sequel setup as it is slapdash revelation that virtually apologizes for every evaporation of logic.
Perhaps the novel’s largest flaw works to its advantage: readers won’t remember their dissatisfaction because they won’t remember the book at all.
Procession of the Dead: 3.5 / 10
anything by darren shan is worth reading. this is interesting take on crime interwoven with Incan references.
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