The first thing I should probably mention is that The Haunting of Derek Stone: City of the Dead & Bayou Dogs is actually two books in one. They don't all come that way but my copy did. That's why I put the & sign in there. To make it a little more clear. I should also point out that I've read this story before. I know what happens. I just reread it for the sake of an accurate review and for the sake of the Reading Trail, reading to help me write.
The book is written in first person. Nothing wrong with that, though I have a hard time writing this way (I'll explain this more some other time). What does bug me is the way the main character tells the story. Not as if it's happening right then or they're telling you about what happened but making obvious hints about what happens next, or what will happen later in the story. No, this book, at the beginning anyway, clearly states what happens next. Not my favorite kind of first person. Don't quite get what I mean? Here's a direct line from the story as written on page 2: My father is... was... a nut about vintage railroad stock, the kind that rumbled through our state until about thirty years ago. It clearly shows that his father is going to die. After the introduction though, the narrator (or Derek) doesn't really talk like that anymore. Unless he's pointing out things in his story that don't really matter. Example, pg. 198: But that was the old Derek thinking. A banged-up car would mean less than nothing in a war against the dead. So skip it. Keep going. There are lots of places in the story where he says things like this. If the author thought it didn't matter, why bother putting it in the story?
The story is also fast-paced. Not in an action-packed way, like something major is happening every moment. It's more like the scenes are switching into each other too quickly. It's like you're in one scene then suddenly you're in another with barely any recognition to the fact. The whole book isn't like that but large pieces of it are. The scenes just sort of melt into each other, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but isn't necessarily a good one either.
Some of the things that happen don't make sense. They would never happen that way in real life. Like how Big Bob Lemon just randomly shows up. This happens twice. Once when Derek and his dad are on the streetcar fighting the dead (pg. 125-126) and once when Derek and Ronny are hiding in an old building from the dead (pg. 153). This eighty-year-old man just happened to be wherever they needed him to be when there was trouble? I don't think so. Another thing that did a slight possibility of really happening, but most likely wouldn't have, was how Bonton pulled out the envelope with the picture in it out of his boot just as he was dying (p. 251). I mean, this guy works in a bayou. Do you think he would be carrying something around in his boot that could be water damaged? No, he wouldn't. Now, there is a possibility that since he knew Derek was coming, he could have put it in his boot to make sure he had it with him to give to Derek. But then why didn't he give it to him earlier when they were in the shack (pg. 216-220)? I know this book is fiction but it still has to make some sense.
Overall, the book wasn't bad. The plot is actually pretty interesting and interwoven. The writing style just needs some work. I won't say I'm eager to read the next one since I already have and know what happens. I also won't say I was overjoyed with this book because it got kind of tedious to read. I will say that I am going to read the next one and that I am happy to be accomplishing something.
The next book along the Reading Trail? The Haunting of Derek Stone: The Red House & The Ghost Road by Tony Abbott.