thebookbag.co.uk | 15 April 2008 | Jill Murphy
Capac Raimi arrives in the City full of ambition. He intends to make a name for himself in his Uncle Theo’s protection business. And, as he always knew he would, Capac turns out to be good at it. He loves the seedy side of the City and he has no compunction in using any dirty tricks to climb the gangster ladder. Capac’s ultimate aim is to work directly for the Cardinal, the City’s godfather. The Cardinal is the City and the City is the Cardinal. But when Capac finally gets his wish, things start to unravel. Why do people vanish without trace, even from the memories of their friends? And speaking of memory, why can’t Capac remember anything of his own life before he came to the City? Darren Shan, who has found such success with his horror books for children, has revamped Procession of the Dead, a novel from pre-fame days. It makes rather a change for a children’s author to send something out into the adult market - it’s usually the other way around, and the offerings are usually considerably less impressive than what’s already there. Think Madonna. This book isn’t like that. It’s a kind of futuristic, noirish, crime fantasy and it works rather well. Shan’s brought in the admirable simplicity of style that he gives to his children’s books and makes them so effective, but he’s added a more sophisticated blurring of the boundary between good and evil, lots of violence - I shudder to think of the body count - and a dollop or two of sex. The result is a rather tense and well-realised mystery which is very enjoyable to read. The setting is great - the City itself is a dark colossus of poverty, violence and sin, punctuated by the rather different lives of a wealthy elite. There’s a host of cultish characters - the Cardinal himself, a sinister mastermind prone to violent tantrums, and a host of other nasties. Paucar Waimi, a wisecracking but utterly psychopathic killing machine, was a particular joy. The mystery is properly mysterious and includes a supernatural element - this is Darren Shan, after all. It’s also an easy, flowing read. Perhaps it doesn’t have too much behind it thematically, but for all-round entertainment, you couldn’t knock it.
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