Title: Dead Man in a Ditch
Author: Luke Arnold
Series: Fetch Phillip’s Archives #2
Release Date: 24/9/2020
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 52
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free finished copy from Orbit books UK in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
You can find my review for The Last Smile in Sunder City Here
The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need?
Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure.
Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot.
Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley.
What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back.
Rumours got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world.
But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder.
I honestly loved my first trip to Sunder City so when offered a chance to get my hands on this book early I jumped at it. While, it took me a little while to refresh my memory as to the characters and the setting once I got back into it all this book just flew by. The pace is exciting with twists turns and reveals.
We get a huge expansion of the world building, we get to explore lots of nooks and crannies of the city itself from its seedy underworld, gambling houses and dingy bars to its infrastructure and new developments. We also get to leave the city and explore old and forgotten communities outside the city. This book is set in the winter which is harsh on both the city and its surroundings and it lends even more suffering to the people of Sunder City, which is just so apparent in the worldbuilding.
I adore Fetch. I really like the choice of the narrative voice for him. it has a touch of the noir with the "Man for Hire" persona, but he is also filled with guilt and feelings of inadequacy. I love how he switches between the false bravado and cheeky banter to naïve and trusting person he truly is. He is so easily taken advantage of but not in an eye-rolling way but more in his need to trust those. To believe in people, to believe that the magic of the world is not truly gone. This leads to some great moments of heartbreak but also some moments of sheer stupidity when he follows the wrong paths. Arnold really isn’t kind to Fetch in this book, and there for is not very kind to his readers hitting us with a good few heart wrenching moments.
The plot of this instalment was far more exciting in my opinion. It had fewer flashbacks into Fetch’s past which I think really helped with the pacing. There were lots of twists, turns and reveals that just kept it moving. Occasionally there were elements and plot points I wish we had lingered over a little longer, as they tended to have significance to the worldbuilding but I overall really enjoyed the story being told. I also really like the balance between the humorous moments and the action or reflective moments. There is just a great balance to the story telling. I really liked how the cases Fetch found himself on intertwined and played into each other.
Arnold has created a mash of Urban and high fantasy like none other, and I am thoroughly enjoying them. It is fun and fascinating and I just devoured it. Like I said with The Last Smile in Sunder City "It just has the perfect combination of magic, mystery, pensive angst, and humour, to make it an excellent read. It is such a unique setting and story" I think this is true of Dead Man in a ditch. I really recommend picking up this series.
While I have yet to check them out the Audio is read by Luke Arnold himself so I imagine that could being even more to the story. I might have to pick them up to re-read while I hope for book 3.