Brodie Wade is unlike the typical example of a "psychic detective". For one thing, he is neither debonair nor overtly creepy. For another, The Truth, a strange combination of a spiritual realm and an abstract concept, is more of a handicap than a gift, one that has physically tortured him and inadvertently removed him from a loving mother's care. In a twisted form of symbiosis, it has also put a roof over his head.
It is difficult to pin this novel into any one genre. First and foremost, it's a mystery: who is after the orbs, and what is The Truth attempting to convey? The story also brings in elements of the supernatural, what with Death and magical orbs hanging over Brodie's head for the duration. The atmosphere has somewhat of a gritty feel, one that would be at home in a thriller. What this hodgepodge of categories means is that Death Has A Name can appeal to a wide range of readers.
It certainly had me hooked. I actually had to set it aside until I could devote a good chunk of time to its consumption. The story moves along at a smart clip, giving readers just enough time to absorb their surroundings before moving onto the next locale. Nearly every scene was important for plot development, which means that readers who are easily bored will find themselves paying rapt attention. Unfortunately, it also means that a lot of "nice to have" information is missing, most noticeably decent background information about our protagonist. We learn that he was institutionalized, but the book offers no details as to how he became involved as a consultant for the police. This is something that is highly relevant, given that his occupation is how he became involved in this whole sordid mess to begin with.
As far as characterizations go, I found that this story fell a bit short. Michaels, for instance, is rather one-dimensional, while Phil falls neatly into the role of "skeptical friend". The pacing of the storyline compensates well for this deficiency, but it was unable to cover the inconsistency in writing quality. On several occasions, key words would be repeated two or three times within the same paragraph, and mentions of Death and his "bonds" soon became wearisome.
Redundancies aside, Death Has A Name is an engrossing read that I would recommend to those who like idiosyncratic protagonists and storylines that move.
(Review copy provided by the author)