School Library Journal | 01 June 2011 | Karyn N Silverman

The companion to The Procession of the Dead (2010) is set in the same strange city peopled with gangsters, villains, and blind Incan priests and ruled over by the enigmatic Cardinal. The action here is roughly concurrent in time, but with only a few overlapping characters. Al Jeery is one of the Cardinal’s guards, a good soldier who only kills on command, and who is defined by his failed marriage and his alcoholism (now under control). When his current girlfriend is brutally murdered and the Cardinal assigns the case to Al, things go from bad to worse: the girlfriend was a prostitute, Al’s long-missing father is a professional killer, it’s all a set up by the secret cabal that controls the city from below–and that’s just the beginning. Likable Al lacks depth, and too many plot points will be familiar to readers of the first book. Al comes across as having little to live for, making the destruction of everything he loves feel a bit purposeless (although that purpose is the heart of the mystery). His journey from redemption (recovery) into darkness is certainly bleak, and Shan has mastered horror, but here the sense of macabre glee in his material is missing. Still, fans of the first volume will appreciate the plot twists and turns and a greater sense of the players, perhaps leading up to a showdown or resolution in the final volume.

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