Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Review – “Living with the Dead” by Kelley Armstrong

Robyn Peltier moved to Los Angeles after her young husband's sudden death, trying to put some distance between herself and her memories. Though she's still grieving, the challenges of her new life as the PR consultant to Portia Kane the world's most famous celebutante wannabe can sometimes be amusing, even distracting. But when her client is gunned down in the back room of a nightclub, Robyn is suddenly on the run as the prime suspect in the murder. And as more bodies pile up around her, it seems like only Hope Adams, Robyn's best friend, and Hope's somewhat spooky boyfriend Karl are on Robyn's side.

Hope Adams follows the kinds of stories whose headlines scream from supermarket checkout lines. But the difference is that Hope's stories are even weirder and they're all true. Though determined to help Robyn, Hope knows it's only a matter of time before her friend is caught. But it's not the police Hope is worried about. For Robyn has gotten herself in the middle of a turf war between two powerful Otherworld cabals who'll spill any amount of blood human and inhuman to protect what they consider theirs for all eternity. And the only way Hope can keep her friend alive is by letting her enter a world she's safer knowing nothing about.
Living with the Dead is the ninth outing in the excellent Women of the Otherworld series of urban fantasies. Hope the half Chaos demon heroine of the previous book in the series, Personal Demons is back with her werewolf beau Karl. Hope has taken a temporary assignment with her tabloid in LA to help her non-supernatural best friend Robyn recover from her husbands untimely death.

A series of cleverly written scenes put Robyn on the run and her life spinning out of control. While out clubbing Robyn goes to check on her client and finds her dead but not before touching the murder weapon. She sees a female suspect fleeing out the back door and follows only to be locked out and then assaulted in the alley. Panicking as police begin to arrive, she heads out to see an ex-cop bodyguard she knows for help. She is not there but a few minutes when a second assailant murders him and tries to kill her. Now she is fully on the run.

The murderer and her accomplice are the most sought after and secretive of the supernaturals - clairvoyants. Adele is part of a hidden kumpania of clairvoyants and is trying to escape their controlling clutches by swinging a deal with the Nast Cabal. Portia takes a cell phone picture of a rival celebutante and sends it to Robyn for the tabloids unaware the image has captured Adele with Irving Nast in the background. Adele must recover the photo and silence the witnesses or risk being exposed as a traitor to her kumpania—a possible death sentence. That she is also a remorseless psychopath only complicates matters.

Assigned to the case is Detective Finn whose secret is that he ‘sees dead people’, in other words a necromancer, but he is totally unaware of Hope’s supernatural world. Finn’s investigation draws him into this world. From interviews with Hope and Karl and Sean of the Nast Cabal, and contact with the murderers Finn is exposed to subtle hints that things aren’t quite ‘normal’. The icing on the cake is when he sees the ghost of Robyn’s dead husband Damon who wants to help the detective.

Living with the Dead is chock full of murder and mayhem, exciting chases, intrigue and conspiracy and just as importantly, vibrant and evolving character relationships. Robyn’s climb out of depression at the loss of her husband and the strength and resilience she shows dealing with her extreme situation are heartfelt and real. Hope also begins to confront and accept the duality of her chaos nature as she absorbs the death experiences from so many murders and the pleasure it brings, despite the horror of the circumstances. Finn also comes to understand his own nature and gains entrance to the supernatural world.

This complex story unfolds in chapters that alternate the key players points of view. Perhaps the best of the Women of the Otherworld offerings to date, Living with the Dead is highly recommended. Although easily read as a standalone, you may wish to read Personal Demon for additional insight into Hope’s character. Robyn and Finn are wonderful new characters and I wouldn't be surprised to see them get their own story somewhere down the line.

(SPOILER ALERT: For fans of the movie Ghost, Living with the Dead features an equally terrific scene . Say no more.)

Author and Book Showcase
Official Kelley Armstrong Website

Read an excerpt.

Random House Canada
Published: November 2008
ISBN #: 0679314865

Women of the Otherworld Series

  1. Bitten (Elena)
  2. Stolen (Elena)
  3. Dime Store Magic (Paige)
  4. Industrial Magic (Paige)
  5. Haunted (Eve)
  6. Broken (Elena)
  7. No Humans Involved (Jaime)
  8. Personal Demon (Hope & Lucas)

Men of the Otherworld [2009]

November Contest: Kelley Armstrong is offering two chances to win a signed copy of any of her published novels. Enter here.


  1. can I say how weird it was to open a book and see my name in big letters. :)

  2. A fairly uncommon name (at least around here). As long as you only share a name because Adele in Living for the Dead is a very bad girl. LOL


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