Review: ‘Til Death – Second Impressions by Jason Anspach

TilDeath2_FT_tempFINALOne of my favourite books from last year was Jason Anspach’s retro noir-ish spooky detective mystery ‘Til Death. It was a breath of fresh air, and a fun read, and now Jason’s back with a sequel.
Detective Sam Rockwell returns with his sassy fiance Amelia as they investigate more shady shenanigans, this time heading to San Francisco to track down a Return (a recently deceased ghost with unfinished business) who has outstayed it’s welcome.

As the investigation progresses, once again Sam finds himself mixed up in something far bigger than he could ever have expected, as he and Amelia are exposed to more danger than ever before.

Once again, Anspach does a commendable job of evoking the 50’s era, with wonderfully detailed descriptions and informed cultural references, as well as the snappy, movie-style banter between the various characters throughout, and the fact that it never takes itself too seriously is a big plus.

The Cold War backdrop, coupled with the vivid nostalgia balance each other nicely, and although there is the usual violence and mayhem involved with a murder mystery, and a ruthless villain to contend with, Anspach keeps proceedings as lighthearted and funny as possible, maintaining the all-important entertainment factor at all times.

Once again, M.S. Corley is on art duty, and his gorgeously retro cover is the icing on the cake.

If you haven’t checked out the original ‘Til Death, you can pick it up at a reduced price until April 29th as well as this sequel.

Witty, warm and decidedly old-school, this sequel delivers laughs and peril in equal measures with all the style and grace of an almost-forgotten era.

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Book Review: Nick And Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage


Image courtesy of Quirk Books

Middle-graders rejoice! Authors Steve Hockensmith and “Science Bob” Pflugfelder are back with another instalment in the increasingly enjoyable Nick and Tesla series.
Our intrepid siblings are back for more scientific shenanigans aimed at 9-12 year-olds, this time on the trail of a valuable stolen comic book.
Still living precariously with their eccentric Uncle Newt, and still none the wiser as to the whereabouts of their parents, Nick and Tesla are enlisted by their friend Silas to find a comic book stolen from his father’s store which would have kept them out of debt, and the store from closing.

Meanwhile, Uncle Newt has become enamoured with fellow scientist Hiroko Sakurai who now owns the Wonder Hut, a veritable Aladdin’s cave of supplies for inventors.

As usual the pair employ their know-how to help find and retrieve the stolen item and once again we are treated to more DIY science projects, this time mostly following the robotic theme of this second book in the series. The experiments, while slightly more complicated than those in the first book, are well-illustrated, easy to follow and most parts can be sourced in the home either from old computers or even old broken toys. Grown-ups will need to help out with assembly as there is some soldering required but it’s a good way of including the parents in the adventure.

The authors have settled in nicely to the world of Nick and Tesla and Half Moon Bay, this being a much more confident effort than its predecessor. Existing characters are further developed, with headstrong Tesla taking the lead, and new characters introduced along the way. The action is fast-paced and the writing funny and punchy and while the story structure deliberately incorporates many of the clichés of classic children’s literature,  it generally does so with a nod and a wink and it’s own sense of style and attitude.

A highly entertaining addition to an innovative series.

Eamon Ambrose