Book Review: The Wrong Dead Guy
So I wasn't really expecting a sequel to The Everything Box; The Wrong Dead Guy caught me a little off-guard. That said, I loved the concept of the Men-in-Black-esque DOPS, even if I didn't love all the characters, so I figured I'd give this one a whirl.
Plus, mummies. I mean, duh.
The Wrong Dead Guy picks up with Coop working on DOPS, with all the characters from The Everything Box. DOPS sends Coop to steal Harkhuf, an Egyptian mummy, from a local museum. Except, in doing so, they allow the mummy to wake up and free itself, cursing Coop in the process. Now Coop has to find a way to get it back, avoid dying and make sure Harkhuf and his girlfriend don't enslave humanity.
Kadrey is a master of dialogue, and it's on full display here. It's sharp, witty, playful, and chock full of the humor you'd expect. You'll be laughing out loud in places. But Kadrey knows dialogue is his strong suite, and he leans on it a little too much to cover other weaknesses in the manuscript. There are places where the banter continues on far beyond what it needs to cover. You don't notice it at first, but it becomes more obvious as the story goes on.
As far as the story itself, it's good. Much less complex than The Everything Box, which is points in its favor (you may recall that I thought Kadrey dropped the ball a bit at the conclusion). This time, it's a much tighter lens around finding and stopping Harkhuf, with fewer factions directly involved in the plot. It still wanders in places; I'm not sure we really needed both the "Sheriff" and his car lot or the gang of PETA-wannabe kids. But on the whole, it's a big improvement over The Everything Box.
The characters get more backstory and development here, also a pro. We get a bit more insight into Coop's past. He's still by far the most developed and interesting of the cast. Giselle becomes a bit more likable, as does Morty. Bayliss sadly is barely in the book, other than her ongoing office issues caused by a vengeful now-mook Nelson. (Sidebar: where can I get a desk-squid of my own?)
Basically I'm trying to say this: The Wrong Dead Guy is like candy. It's colorful and fun to consume. It's a fun romp, much like its predecessor, but there's not a lot of meat to it. As far as I'm concerned, that's fine - I like a little candy now and then. It's a good book. Just don't go into this expecting any deep themes or commentary.