Title: A Dead End Job
Author: Justin Alcala
Publisher: Parliament House
Page Count: 294
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Fantasy
Rep: Wheelchair user
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨ (4.5/5)
What do you get when you mix Dresden Files with Sandman Slim and throw in a dash of Pratchett? A Dead End Job by Justin Alcala. This book is laden with pop/geek culture references and one liners—and I had a blast with it. Premise: Death needs a vacation, but his job isn’t one you can put aside for a week or two, so he hires an intern—a down-on-his-luck hitman with love of D&D and all-things geek, Buck Palasinki.
What could possibly go wrong?
From the geek references to the pacey plot, this book bucks stereotypes at every turn. We have a broke hitman who carves up the dice on D&D night as the wizard Sarsicus, Death who has an affinity for Hello Kitty collectible figurines, along with zombies, werewolves, vampires, revenants, Frankenstein monsters, witches and warlocks to name a few. Peeved that certain “unmentionables” (namely zombies and vampires) have cheated death, Death sets Buck an assignment to kill one of the head honchos of the Chicago vampire community, John Dillinger.
From a diversity standpoint, it was great to see some rep in here with Death’s IT guy, Jumbo, being a wheelchair user. We’ve also got PTSD, trauma and grief in Buck’s backstory that also nicely fleshes out his character as well as gently drawing attention to the treatment of the US veteran community.
The plot zooms along in the story, and there’s never a dull moment. The found family element between Buck and Luna—the orphaned werewolf—was particularly endearing. If you’re looking for an easy, fun read and enjoy stories that delve into the supernatural underground, A Dead End Job is a must read.