Gilman, Laura Anne: Staying Dead (The Retrievers I) (2006)

Before starting in on a review of the PSI books, I felt the need to revisit the Retriever‘s series’ Staying Dead. Too many books have come between the last time I read it and now. That, and Bonnie, the main character of PSI, has a walk-on in one of the Retriever books.

Staying Dead is a mystery with a dash of current (magic) added in. Well, a lot of current, but it remains mainly a mystery that just happens to be placed in an urban fantasy environment. Theft method is by current and the retriever of that object is also gifted by the ability to use current (electricity both wild and tamed). Lightning is an example of wild current. Tamed is hopefully self-explanatory.

Our main character is Genvieve Taylor. Next in importance is her partner, Sergei Didier. Sergei and Wren “retrieve” lost items. Retrieve is used in its loosest sense in their business. I kind of like it when the a thief is set to catch a thief who has hired a thief to steal from a thief. Maybe this is one crime where there is only one victim – the original one. Or maybe not.

Staying Dead is also very much about racism. Village Pest Removal services ask people to “Let us remove infestations and unwanted visitations”. Wren soon understands that they are talking about removing the fatae from New York. Fantasy and science fiction seem to have become the venue where serious discussions about the impact of racism and all the various forms of bigotry occur. Perhaps that has to do with the opportunity the authors have to create a landscape of humans vs. non-humans.

Our world is filled with racism. Norway is no exception to that. I doubt any country is devoid of it. Here pink in various hues is the majority color. Practically any tone of brown stands out. I admit to be racist. I am also a bigot. Neither fact makes me proud and I do try to keep my mouth shut about some the thoughts that appear in my head. But I have been raised in a faith and several societies that have shared racism as part of their underlying principles (only an explanation – not an excuse). Sergei is that kind of racist. He really tries to control what he says, but he does not trust the otherness of the fatae. Like humans some of the fatae are mean and some of them are kind. Sergei did not understand that until Wren knocked some sense into his head. I needed to understand group processes and exactly what was meant by the term racism and find a way to relate it to myself. Sergei gets to do that as one after the other of the fatae is beaten to a bloody pulp for no other reason than being fatae. Life is like that. Every once in a while something or some person comes along that lets us see people in a new light.

Many books have come between reading Staying Dead for the first time and this time. I am still definitely recommending it.


Staying Dead available on

Race ya.

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