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AUTHOR INFORMATION: D.B. Shan is just one of the few pen names taken by Darren O'Shaughnessy. He is more famously known as Darren Shan for the "Saga of Darren Shan" and "The Demonata" series. He spends his time between livening in the Irish countryside as well as London. The first book in the "Saga Of Darren Shan" was recently made into a film called "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant"
FORMAT/INFO: Procession of the Dead is 278 pages long divided into twelve named chapters. Narration is via first person and features Capac Raimi. This is a first book of a proposed trilogy but this first book stops at a perfect point and brings the tales started in this novel to an end.
June 6, 2010 marked the Hardback publication of Procession of the Dead via Grand Central Publishing.
This book was first published in 1999 and was released under the name "Ayuamarca". The book and its sequel "Hell's Horizon" were released. However the third part of this series was never published. This book has since been re-written/re-editing and is now being re-released. The story is a bit hard to pin under as it seems to be Noir story from the book blurb and there is a distinct possibility of it being something more.
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Procession of the Dead begins with Capac Raimi arriving at a train station in the City. It seems to be a rainy afternoon and as Capac gets out in the City he notices the blind monk who seem to come out in the mysterious fog. From there he proceeds to meet his uncle Theo Boratto who takes Capac under his wing and teaches him how to be a gangster.
Capac Raimi's journey from a minor level gangster into the upper echelons begins as his moves catch the eye of the Cardinal. Events will eventually transpire to bring him face to face with the Cardinal who is surprising and shocking with his thoughts and theories. He soon realizes that he has been reassigned as a "Cardinal" man and now will have to work towards the Cardinal's goals and plans.
Meetings of various of the cardinal's associates like Pacar Wami, the psychotic enigmatic assassin, Ford Tasso, the Cardinal's right hand man and central enforcer, Sonja Arne, an ex-prostitute with a head for numbers and the Cardinal's mother influence, eventually creep up into this part of the novel. He is also asked to stay in a hotel which serves as the residential quarters of all the Cardinal's men and therein he meets another soul who quickly bonds with him and appears to be just as lost as Capac but seems to know a tiny bit more then he does.
Capac Raimi goes about learning his new role and adjusting to his new found status with the help of the various cast members listed above. The strange part of the tale starts here as Capac meets certain people and certain situations occur that have him start doubting the City, its inhabitants and the Cardinal himself.
The story then takes myriad twists and turns as Capac seemingly meets people who help him around and then completely disappear with no one remembering them. Capac's search for them leads him onto another person who might have some information about the Cardinal. This ultimately leads to a showdown with the Cardinal where all is revealed to Capac. I have intentionally tried to be vague about the plot mysteries which Capac encounters as to reveal them would be spoilerific and would denounce the reading experience.
Darren Shan has created a fascinating Noir-mystery-UF combo here and it focuses upon Incan myths. The biggest draw about this tale is its setting, the unnamed City is itself a character and even though its origins and name have not been specified, hints are provided for it to be set in the North American continent.
The writing style and the first person voice draw the reader in and sustains them till the end of this tale. While the ending revelation seemed apropos and fitting for me, it might be a hit and miss for some. Keep an open mind with this book and the ending might be a pleasant surprise.
In the end I would gladly recommend this book as I went without any prior knowledge about the author and found the tale to be visceral and fascinating in its own dark way. This book was one of my top reads and I'm gladly looking forward to the next book in the City trilogy to see where the author goes from the stunning finale of the "Procession of the Dead".