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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Countdown to...Death. (Again.)


Imagine having three days left to live... knowing that 72 hours was all the time you had, and that it wouldn't be spent wasting away in a bed somewhere in the last stages of disease, or waiting to be executed at a certain time; but rather, that once those 72 somewhat-normal hours had elapsed, your time would simply be up. You'd breathe your final breaths, then Game Over. 
Now, imagine that same scenario... but spending it not in your own familiar package of skin, bones, blood, and muscle--but in a stranger's body. Your thoughts, feelings and emotions--in someone else's shell. (That 72 hours just gets better and better, doesn't it?)
But, wait--that's still not everything. The three-day period isn't yours to simply enjoy (hugging loved ones, eating bon-bons and swilling champagne, having wild monkey sex in public places, or whatever); no, you have a mission: finding out who killed you (which, of course, is what necessitated your thoughts migrating to another still-functioning body in the first place), and why, and then trying to set everything (aside from your own death, which unfortunately cannot be altered) back to rights. (Okay. That's all.)
Well, that's the situation bounty hunter Evangeline (Evy) Stone finds herself in, in Kelly Meding's Three Days to Dead. After spending the last few years as part of a three-person "Dreg" bounty hunter squad, searching out and destroying evil supernatural creatures ("dregs")--such as ghouls and goblins--in an effort to keep the general (and unawares) human population safe and happy, Evy suddenly finds herself waking up in the morgue--in the body of another woman (who had obviously also been recently dead). And, although Evy remembers who she is (in her mind), she has no idea whose body she's now inhabiting. She also, as luck would have it, has no recollection of how she died, or what led up to those last few days prior to her dying.
Getting in contact with her friends and acquaintances is the logical next step, but that proves tricky; many of them--including the other two members of her old team--have recently been killed, too, and the rest of the people she knew and worked with are either out hunting the mysterious killers, or have run to ground out of fear for their own safety. Something very bad is happening, and Evy has walked right back into it. Things momentarily look a little brighter when she meets up with Wyatt, her former "handler"--the manager who gave the team its orders ("Charlie" to the "Angels", if you will ;)), but he doesn't know much more than she does. And he, like she, is now being hunted; it seems the pair of them are being blamed for an awful lot of the bad stuff going down.
What follows is by times frantic, and by times achingly slow, as Evy and company try to figure out just what, exactly, is going on, as well as trying to stay a step ahead of the game. Their efforts take them all over the city--to places, and meeting beings, they never before knew existed. Meanwhile, the clock races on, hurtling them all toward the end that--for Evy, at least--has been preordained.
Although TDtD had a slow beginning--I didn't really "get into it" until I was about 40 pages in--this was a fast-paced and fascinating read for me, once it got going. In fact, after figuring out enough details about the "world"--who the good/bad characters were, what roles everyone played, etc.--I had a hard time putting this book down, and wound up enjoying it immensely. It is an intelligent story, and the plot holds together well. I was genuinely surprised at the depth of emotion depicted, and how well it's portrayed, given the very limited timeframe the story plays out in. There are so many undercurrents--fear, rage, passion, love, and jealousy--all riding along the waves in a story with considerable action and excitement. 
This is a story about not only recrimination and guilt, but also about redemption. And, in the end, it's even about learning to love, against all odds. Who among us couldn’t use a little more of that in our lives?
GlamKitty rating: 4.5 catnip mice (out of 5 possible)

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