Corpselight is the second book of the Verity Fassbinder trilogy from Australian author Angela Slatter. Book one Vigil (which I haven’t read yet) introduced super-strong half blood paranormal PI Verity, who pounds the streets of Brisbane working cases for the Australian city’s Weyrd Council.
Corpselight finds the now heavily pregnant Verity, taking on an insurance investigation. The repeated inundation of Susan Beckett’s house with foul stinky mud at a certain part of the lunar cycle sets off a ‘unusual happenstance’ clause, and Bela, Verity’s boss, thinks it’s just the job for her now that her super-strength has abandoned her during her pregnancy. Sounds a bit mundane, but then people start drowning on dry land and corpselights turn up in Verity’s back garden. As if that isn’t bad enough a bunch of really cute kitsune fox assassins are on Verity’s trail.
Given that I am a 58-year-old bloke I had my doubts about whether I’d enjoy Corpselight. Sure I enjoyed Buffy, but there is an awful lot of this kind of “paranormal noir” about and it often does seem pitched at a much younger audience. Thankfully Verity’s world of demons, curses and paranormal creatures is a delightfully mature and cynical place. Verity herself is a snarky and sweary heroine who is supported by a regular cast of well-rounded ‘normal’ and ‘weyrd’ characters, that include David, her remarkably tolerant and patient ‘normal’ boyfriend, Rhonda McIntyre the hard-bitten lesbian copper who acts as Brisbane’s police ‘weyrd’ liaison officer and Verity’s driver, Ziggy who just happens to have a third eye in the back of his head.
Overall Slatter manages to pull off the trick of making the mashed up world of Brisbane’s normal/paranormal society interact in a completely natural and amusingly funny fashion. Add to that a supporting cast of supernatural critters that reflect Brisbane’s ethnic melting pot, a story that pulls a few unexpected major twists and a narrative that never falls into the trap of taking itself too seriously and you have a very enjoyable read .
Funny, exciting and very much of today’s Australia I give Corpselight a 666/666
Corpselight is published by our good friends at Jo Fletcher Books at £13.99 in the UK