Friday, April 23, 2010

The Cadaver Client by Frank Tuttle

TITLE: The Cadaver Client
AUTHOR: Frank Tuttle
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 25k)
GENRE: Fantasy mystery
COST: $3.50

Markhat is back. Mama Hog introduces him to spook doctor Granny Knot, who wants to hire him to find a dead man’s wife and child. He’s never found anything for a cadaver before, but there’s a first time for everything…

It’s no secret I love Frank Tuttle and his Markhat books. His sense of humor and vivid detailing, both in setting and characters, hooked me from the start, so I had high expectations going into this. It’s a little disappointing that this doesn’t measure up to its predecessors, but a weaker Tuttle story is still miles ahead most of what’s out there.

Markhat is celebrating being a Finder for ten years, when Mama Hog shows up at his door with her friend, Granny Knot, in tow. Granny wants to hire Markhat to find a woman and her daughter, and is willing to pay a lot of money to do so. It’s not her money, but rather the dead man’s, and though Markhat doesn’t necessarily believe any of this, money is money, and he takes the job. This starts him out on what turns out to be the most laidback, unimposing of the adventures we’ve yet to see him on. He spends a lot of time nosing around for information, usually without too much success. When he decides to take more direct measures, the action speeds up, but the climax – while cleverly set up – lacks any real tension.

That anticlimactic feeling is probably what disappointed me the most. I was all prepared for Markhat to face off and defeat the bad guy, but a few lines of dialogue, some creepy cold, and then it was over. That was it. I needed more than what I got.

It’s also mildly disappointing that the emotional journey Markhat took in the previous story is abandoned in this. No mention is made of Darla, the woman who drove him to such lengths in the last book. I didn’t necessarily need her in this, but for a linear reader, it’s disconcerting to find no kind of explanation as to why she’s not there. I didn’t need much, just a sentence or two. But when I’m accustomed to such excellence from Tuttle, any shortcomings stand out. Don’t be mistaken, though. I still really enjoyed this quieter tale. The author is easily one of the most consistent, original writers I’ve found in the e-world. His creation in Markhat deserves every reader he can get.


8/10 – Slower paced than previous stories, and not as funny, but still a standout


9/10 – This is where Tuttle always shines


7/10 – A quieter installment to the series, though the ultimate motivations seemed a little shallower than I’ve come to expect from the author

Entertainment value

8/10 – Questions about his missing girlfriend (he went to a lot of trouble for her) and the slower pace rates this lower than other installments but he’s too good not to enjoy

World building

8/10 – While we got some answers about other aspects of the world, I found myself lacking some in regards to aspects of this story




K. Z. Snow said...

I adore Frank Tuttle's work! Might you know if Samhain intends to bundle the shorter Markhat tales into a trade-paperback edition? It makes sense to do so, yet I can't find any evidence of a print collection on their site or at their bookstore.

Book Utopia Mom said...

I don't, but that sounds like a fabulous idea. I would buy that in a heartbeat.

K. Z. Snow said...

So would I. Thanks!