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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Dead In Time by Anna Reith

Title: Dead in Time

Author: Anna Reith

Publisher: Frith Books

Buy Link: Buy Dead In Time Here!

Rating: You Gotta Read

Reviewed By: Nerine Dorman


Glam rock star Damon Brent was riding high when he died: fame, fortune… like, the works, baby. But, despite what the papers said, his death was no accident. Thirty years on, Damon’s back, and he was murdered – or so he says.

Ellis Ross, daughter of Damon’s biggest fan, is busy trying to finish her dissertation. She doesn’t need to find a dead pop star in lurex pants chain-smoking on her window seat.

Of course, it’s funny what life’ll throw at you.

Damon wants Ellis to find out exactly who killed him and, as she quickly discovers, when you’re being haunted by a man wearing more eyeliner than you are, it’s hard to say no.

As the unlikely sleuth delves into years of secrets, grudges, and broken dreams, Ellis finds almost everyone from Damon’s past has something to hide… and he’s not exactly being honest with her, either. But, when they start to close in on the truth, Ellis realises she may be risking much more than just her sanity.


I must admit the moment I scanned the blurb for this novel, I knew I wanted to read it, and author Anna Reith does not disappoint. Anyone who’s watched Velvet Goldmine and enthused about David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust days will fall irrevocably in love with Dead in Time and Damon Brent. Part murder mystery, part paranormal thriller, Dead in Time follows the doings of an initially somewhat reluctant sleuth, Ellis Ross.

Ross really needs to finish her dissertation but when the ghost of a never-quite-made-it glam rocker starts haunting her, she soon finds herself possessed by the need to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding his supposedly accidental death. What follows is a fascinating glimpse into a time thirty years in the past. Love him or hate him, Damon Brent had an undeniable effect on the people around him.

Armed with a scrapbook painstakingly put together by her late mother, who was a huge Damon Brent fan, Ross eventually sees the bigger picture. And it’s all about connections, though some of them are very painful, and Ross may have more in common with her spectral visitor than she initially considered.

What I really enjoyed about the story was seeing Damon Brent through the eyes of the people who were close to him. Each viewed the man through a different lens, and not all the opinions were complimentary. This offers a very balanced perspective on the man, which I really appreciated as a reader. I could make up my own mind about whether I liked him. Yes, he may have been a conceited, preening peacock, but Damon Brent possesses an undeniable magnetism. Alive or dead.

Another aspect of the novel I enjoyed were the flashbacks to the unfortunate series of events leading up to Damon’s untimely demise, as told by secondary characters. Everyone has a motive, it would appear, and Reith’s orchestration of past and present offers a masterful mélange not always easy to accomplish without giving the game away.

Reith’s overall characterization is exquisite, as is her use of language. That she understands music and loves it deeply is so evident. Dead in Time is worth reading on multiple levels, not just for the prose and the obvious dedication on the author’s part for her subject matter, but also for this slice of nostalgia. Reith has made it onto my permanent list of contemporary authors who are firm favorites, and if there is one book you read, inside or outside of your chosen genre this year, make it this one.

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