The fourth book in the dark urban fantasy series set in a world where ghosts are real. The atmosphere and Chess’ life are so dark that I’m including this in my RIP reading.
Publication year: 2012
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Running Time: 13 hrs and 51 minutes

Chess Putham is a Debunker for the Church of the Real Truth; she banishes ghosts which tend to be violent and irrational. She’s also a drug addict because of her horrible childhood; she wants to keep those feelings and memories away. She’s also very insecure and feels that she deserves all the bad things which happened to her and when good things happen, she’s convinced that something or someone will screw it up.

Chess’ drug dealer is one of the two powerful local crime bosses, Bump. When one of his warehouses is burned with a ritually killed body inside, he orders Chess to find out who did it. As a Debunker, Chess often has to find out if an alleged haunting is real and if not, who and why did it, so in theory Chess might be able to track down the killer. Unfortunately, it takes time and Bump isn’t patient.

At the same time, the Church gives Chess a new case. One of their schools has a ghost and Chess is asked to look into it. The case had been assigned to another Debunker first, but he has disappeared, so Elder Griffin sends their best Debunker, Chess. Unfortunately for Chess, the school is located in another crime boss’ area. The boss, Slobag, is father to Chess’ former lover Lex and Chess might still have feelings for him.

Chess is in a new and still tenuous relationship with Bump’s main enforcer, Terrible. Unfortunately, she can’t just enjoy it but has to constantly worry about how Terrible sees her, and if and when he’s going to leave her. The relationship is raw and in-your-face and as far from happily ever after as can be. Because Chess’ new case in Lex’s father’s turf, she even more insecure about Terrible.

Like all the other books in this series, this one too has a lot of secondary characters. When Chess goes to the haunted school, the teachers treat her with a mixture of amusement and condescension and Chess’s awful memories about her own school time don’t help. All of the familiar cast returns.

The story moves at a good pace, switching between Chess’ two cases and her relationship with Terrible and scenes with Lex. However, a lot of time is spent in Chess’ head with her neurosis and insecurities. She also uses a lot of drugs, as usual.

An interesting side note is that some of the characters question the Church’ origins. Is it possible that the Church isn’t simply a savior when the ghosts started to rebel and attack humans, but that the Church actually started the whole thing? I hope this will be explored later. I don’t remember anyone mentioning this before. Since the Church essentially rescued Chess from her earlier life, Chess thinks that the Church is beyond any blame.

Apparently same-sex marriages exist in this world and are somewhat common. That was interesting to see because the quotations at the start of each chapter, from various in-world sources, are heteronormative.

The characters speak in a thick Downside accent which seems to be even thicker this time. Usually the accent is quite easy to listen to in an audio book (I probably wouldn’t have even tried to decipher it in a print format so I was really lucky that I started the series in audio) but this time is was sometimes a bit hard to fathom just what is being said. Bump’s dialog was especially bad.

The first chapter is available on the author’s site for free.

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