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Dead of Light by Chaz Brenchley
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Dead of Light (1995)

by Chaz Brenchley

Series: Light (1)

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412417,628 (3.96)2

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Ben Macallan, the disowned, prodigal son of a Mafia-like magically-talented family, is drawn back home by the supernaturally gruesome murder of his cousin Marty. Very readable fantasy crime novel. ( )
  nicholas | Jun 27, 2010 |
Benedict Macallan doesn't share his family's talent -- nor their taste for power and violence. He turned his back on them; walked out of the family, if not out of the town that they control. But when a cousin is murdered in a manner that promises danger to the whole family, he's pulled back in against his will. Only for the funeral, only for long enough to say goodbye to a cousin he loved in spite of everything -- but then the body count starts to mount, and whatever Ben may feel about his family, they're his *family*.

The publisher calls it a horror novel, but it's more of a story about a Mafia-like family, seen through the eyes of a dropout member who understands how they look from both the inside and the outside. The horror element comes in the weapon used by the family to maintain control of their territory, one that's only hinted at initially, and gradually revealed during the first half of the book. Power corrupts, and the Macallan clan has held power for a very long time. Now someone is reflecting that power and threat back at them, killing Macallans as casually as they've killed others. Ben's left trying to protect a family he despises and that mostly despises him; and the outside friends who are afraid of him now they've been reminded exactly who he is; and himself. But Ben has no power of his own...

Brenchley deftly interweaves a coming of age story with a murder mystery, gradually building a picture of a strange but only too human family, and Ben's love-hate relationship with them. There's some fine world-building and character development to back up the rising tension as Ben tries to solve the lethal riddle. And the use of language is superb, making the book a joy to read for the pure pleasure of the prose. It's not exactly your traditional whodunnit, but the magic elements are never used to cheat the reader, and the clues are there for those who want to play the game. Dead of Light is both lyrical and a gripping, fast-paced read. ( )
2 vote JulesJones | Jul 27, 2007 |
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When Benedict left home, it was maybe the first time he'd stood up to his family. It was also meant to be the last. But suddenly Ben's learning a lot, far more than his university course could ever teach him. And as his family starts to die one by one--vicious, gruesome, horrible deaths--the chief lesson is that you can't turn your back on blood.… (more)

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