Dead and Talking: A Porter & The Gliss Investigation
Publication Date: March 10, 2019
Genres: Paranormal Suspense, Humorous Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 5 stars
Dead & Talking
If a ghost appeared from nowhere, rescued you from suicide and then ordered you to start solving crimes to help dead people, what would you do? When it happens to Porter Norton, he just wants to put his head in his hands and have nothing to do with it. But now he has to atone for the family curse that has seen all the men die at their own hands for five generations. The Gliss, the sarcastic spirit that rescues him, says he can now and see and hear the Dead – if he’s close to their remains. Porter has to use his unwelcome gift to clear up past injustices. Or else. Forced to investigate the murder of a WW1 British Tommy executed for spying in 1917, he begins to suspect the case has links to his own family history. Along the way, Porter enlists the help of a bickering group of misfits, who struggle to stay involved – because only fools believe in the supernatural, don’t they? Full of pop culture references, banter and twists, the story takes us from present-day London and Flanders to scenes from World War 1. As Porter, The Gliss, and friends, get deeper into the explosive case, they discover their own lives and sanity are at stake. An evil from WW1 pursues them all.
Dead and Talking by Des Burkinshaw is one of those subtly engrossing books that kind of sneaks up on you. I’ll admit that I started this one late. I had plans to read a chunk and skim if needed. Instead, I found myself eagerly turning pages, impatient to see what happens next. The story is great and well-put-together. Despite many changes in focus, even switching between modern day and WW1, Burkinshaw is able to keep the flow going and nothing is jarring. The whole of the story is written in 3rd person, though, which I think accounts for a lot of that. Even though we’re seeing what’s going on with many different people, we’re still outside looking in.
Porter himself isn’t much. One character describes him as “nice, if a bit boring.” That pretty much sums him up. He’s nice. He’s a bit boring. A bit of a pushover…of course there wouldn’t be much story if he wasn’t. However, the cast of characters that surround him are vibrant and lend him a bit of sparkle. He seems to collect characters of coincidence wherever he goes, though the whole story makes you question just how much of anything is a coincidence. I thought I pretty much figured out who the “bad guy” in the story was around 33%. However, while the stuff he did (I guessed) was accurate, the perpetrator was not.
Not content with mere ghosts, Burkinshaw throws in some more paranormal stuff along with some interesting side-commentary on mental illness. All the characters seem to view depression and suicide differently, but it is their own personal views on it that seem to shape the story. Overall, the story is a crazy mix of ghost story and historical fiction with a fair bit of mystery thrown in. I definitely recommend it for anybody looking for something a little more out of the ordinary. I’m looking forward to seeing more out of the group of strangers-cum-friends.
Author Bio –
Born in the middle of the Summer of Love on a pre-fab council estate in Luton, teenage bitterness and a chance viewing of the Watergate movie, All the President’s Men, made him vow to become a journalist and bring down the government.
First he had to pay for his journalism course, so he became a civil servant. Literally the day he had enough for his fees, he packed it in.
Twelve years on from watching the film, he was a journalist at The Times and had a big hand in bringing down John Major’s government. News ambitions sated, he
packed that in too.
Several years of working for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC as a senior producer saw him working across the world, but he eventually got fed up with asking bands how the new album was coming along, and packed it in.
He set up his own production company magnificent! in 2002 and simultaneously worked on the BBC Live Events team for another 10 years. But then six years of work on the Olympics came along, so he packed the BBC in. Again.
Des has jammed with many of his heroes from Paul McCartney to Brian Wilson, Queen to Nancy Sinatra. He has interviewed many A-listers, including David Bowie, Michael Caine, John Cleese and even Noam Chomsky.
He has directed/produced a fairly long list of people – Muse, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, produced BBC3’s Glastonbury coverage for a couple of years, made films about leprosy in India, comedy shorts with Miranda Hart and Lenny Henry
and played guitar for Chas and Dave at the Hackney Empire.
He has made 300+ short films for the Queen, MI5, the BBC, Sky, Discovery, EMI, the British Academy and dozens of authorities, charities and private sector firms. His most recent publication was a series of interviews with leading academics like Mary
Beard on the state of the humanities which was published as a standalone magazine by the British Academy.
Fed up with travelling and determined to be a half-decent dad, he now works in London as often as he can. He runs the Young Directors Film School making movies with young people and is about to head up the Digital Film and Video MA at Tileyard. An avid musician and producer, he releases his third album as Romano Chorizo (he plays drums, bass, piano, guitar and really bad sax).
He hates to be pigeon-holed, thinks creativity is a learned state of mind and wishes they would teach people memory and learning techniques at school.
Dead & Talking is his first novel, the first in a series of Porter & The Gliss investigations.