Adult SFF Review: Department Zero by Paul Crilley

Department Zero by Paul Crilley 

Pyr- January 24, 2017

320 pages

Purpose: Review

Source: Edelweiss

 I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

2 stars

 Harry Priest is divorced with a daughter he is devoted to. He is a crime scene clean up technician. The book opens with Harry and his co-worker, Jorge the boss’s son, being called to a crime scene at a motel. When they arrive, Harry observes that the crime scene doesn’t appear to be ready for them. He is looking for some sign that the police have been there and have already processed the scene. As he is trying to figure this out a team from some unknown organization comes and claims jurisdiction over the crime scene. Harry and Jorge leave, Harry a bit curious but nothing more.  This is the night and the crime scene that changes everything and challenges everything that Harry has believed. The team that took over the crime scene is demoted and blames Harry. Harry is then recruited for what he believes to be for interstitial detective work, but it’s not.  It’s to do the exact same job that he had been doing but on a multiverse level. Havelock Graves recruits Harry in hopes of figuring out what happened to the case that caused him and his team to be demoted. Pursuing this case will take them across dimensions, universes and deep into the mythology of Lovecraftian monsters.

That sounds interesting, to say the least.  The actual book summary caught my attention and made me want to read this book immediately. Unfortunately, it didn’t maintain that level of intrigue throughout the book.  If I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be absurd.  There was enough action and mystery and “what the hell is going on?” at the beginning to draw me into the story.  But it didn’t last.  And it wasn’t any one thing that didn’t work for me, it was a bunch of little things. Let’s start with the villains. There were quite a few, but only two really spent the time interacting with the other characters. And both villains sounded the same. Their speech patterns had the same lazy speech rhythms and tones, and they both used the same outdated lingo. Then there is the good guys, the team that you are supposed to be rooting for. But, Graves was an ass and not likable in any way. Ash was just there. I think Crilley missed a lot by not flushing out this character. The dynamic between her and Graves could have made some of the scenes so much stronger and convincing, but instead it was just disappointing. Then there is Harry Priest, himself. I guess he would be the main character, but he is a bumbling idiot. With the amount of times that he stumbled across something only to be knocked over the head, he deserves to end up with permanent brain damage.  While there were surprising moments of impressive instincts, they happened so rarely that it was mostly out of luck or out of character.

Yes, there is a certain amount of suspension of belief when you are reading any fiction book, more so with fantasy. When you decide to add in touches of science fiction, you are looking for science that makes it a bit believable. It is hard to fall into this story as even plausible when the characters themselves are not convinced. It’s like listening to someone tell you a lie when you know that they are lying and you know that they know that you know that they are lying. I really wanted to like this book, I thought that it had a lot of potential. But unfortunately, it was unfulfilled potential.

Always Shine!

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