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A Corpse's Nightmare: A Fever Devilin Novel by Phillip DePoy
Review by Verna Suit
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312699468
Date: 08 November 2011 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

On December 3rd, someone came into Fever Devilin's house and shot him dead. His capable nurse-fiancee Lucinda managed to resuscitate him, but he's been in a coma ever since. Now it's March and he's just opened his eyes for the first time. But he continues to fall back asleep and dream about his mother and Paris in the 1920s. In particular, he dreams about a Paris jazz club and people who may be his ancestors.

Fever Devilin is a likeable and fascinating character. A highly intelligent folklorist, he's given up his college professorship and moved back to his childhood home in the little town of Blue Mountain, Georgia. He's never known much about his mother's side of the family. Now, because of his dreams and memories, he begins trying to trace her genealogy. He goes where his intuition takes him and nearly loses his life again.

This sixth in the Fever Devilin series, like its predecessors, has hints of the supernatural. Fever admits he's "been on the strange side of life for most of his born days". He's aware that some coma victims have hallucinations and he wonders if that's what his dreams really are. Whether dreams, memory, imagination, or hallucination, he does seem to be seeing ghosts, or else angels, or perhaps FBI agents. One is never quite sure in this gothic, complex tale. Underlying it, however, is a theme of pernicious racial hatred that is passed down through families.

Aside from the plot and the supernatural aspects, A Corpse's Nightmare has many engaging elements. Small-town closeness is enhanced by Fever's circle of charming and loyal friends, including the sheriff and his wife Girlinda, who delights in filling Fever's refrigerator with her to-die-for dishes. Paramount is Dr. Winton Andrews, an equally erudite friend from Fever's professor days, who frequently accompanies him on his escapades. Their banter delivers tidbits like how a 'person from Porlock' came to represent any interruption to inspiration and vision, and that the labyrinth on Minos is a metaphor for the human subconscious. In addition, several real people (Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, King Oliver) are used fictionally and help deliver a fascinating lesson in U.S. jazz history. All in all, this rewarding book gives one lots to think about.

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