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Pretty Little Dead Things (Thomas Usher, #1)
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Pretty Little Dead Things (Thomas Usher #1)

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Reluctant working class psychic Thomas Usher is drawn into a web of crime, murder and the supernatural when the ghosts of three murdered strippers appear to him asking for help. As a complex mystery unfolds, involving a missing child, a Russian criminal and a violent youth gang on a notorious Leeds sink estate, Usher is driven by the ghosts of his own past to confront an e...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Angry Robot (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sarah
27/2 - Can this live up to the hype that I've heard going around about it? I haven't read or heard any praise, or criticism, just a lot of excited hype. According to Ramsey Campbell (who the hell is Ramsey Campbell), on the back of the book, Gary McMahon is "one of our darkest - which is to say brightest stars - stars in the firmament of horror fiction." We'll see...

Also this is my first ever buddy read (not counting being told to read up to chapter 'whatever' in the class book of the semester f...more
Taueret
Mar 18, 2012 Taueret rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, illiterate peasants
Ok, I must be weird- both this book and its sequel "Dead Bad Things" got good reviews from readers on Goodreads- but to me they sucked so bad.

This reads like Sarah Palin wrote it. Like she read a pile of Clive Barker and Stephen King and said 'okie dokey I can do that'- and sat down and penned this. I can see her now, in her "writing Barbie" outfit, tongue poked out in concentration as she pecks the keys one at a time. Her editor was way, way too scared of the crazy lady to dare to edit it at A...more
Ben Babcock
I read Pretty Little Dead Things with shivers down my spine. It’s that kind of book: Gary McMahon creates suspense and no small amount of dread as he introduces us to Thomas Usher, a sometime private investigator who sees dead people. Usher becomes mixed up in a series of grisly murders that all point to something much more sinister going down (yes, more sinister than murder). And he isn’t the only one who is slinging supernatural power. A malevolent being from another dimension has discovered U...more
Glen Krisch
Solid effort. McMahon isn't afraid to go to weird places! Felt like it could have been edited down in length. Oherwise, I'm impressed with my first novel-length read by McMahon.
Shaun
This is the story of a man hired to find a killer by one [unsavoury] individual and discover the truth behind a missing girl's disappearance by another [sympathetic] individual. And yet it is so much more.

Usher is tortured. Since surviving the road accident that stole him of his wife and daughter, the makeshift Private Eye has been able to see ghosts; thumbprints of those whose spirits are tortured by their passing. Feeling a duty to the dead and bereaved, he takes it upon himself to ease their...more
Mark
Thomas Usher can see ghosts and it’s his job to try and find out their stories. Having lost his wife and child some years before, he’s hardened to life and when the girl he’s been hired to follow winds up dead, he digs a little too deeply and finds out things that would best be left undiscovered. A cool, dark, downbeat horror-thriller, this is the first of two Usher novels that McMahon will publish through Angry Robot books and it’s a killer. From the painful, poignant relationship between Usher...more
Matthew Fryer
During the last year, I’ve enjoyed watching Gary McMahon rise from a champion of the small press to the big leagues, and his lastest mass market release perfectly demonstrates why this is so. This novel is a very tight combination of noir, horror and character drama.

In Pretty Little Dead Things, we meet Thomas Usher, a man who loses his wife and young child in a traffic accident, but develops a supernatural talent to keep him busy through the years of bitter grief. He can see the recently deceas...more
Ken
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nick Cato
Thomas Usher is the survivor of a car accident that claimed the lives of his wife and daughter. Now it's fifteen years later, and since the accident he's been given the ability to see and receive subtle messages from the dead. In constant grief and attempting to understand his supernatural abilities, Thomas is called to investigate the disappearance of a gangster's daughter...and it leads him on a dark adventure through multiple realities (or "levels") that lead to one gut-wrenching, heart-break...more
Scott
It's another super-glum novel from Mr. McMahon. Fifteen years ago, Thomas Usher lost his wife and daughter in a car crash for which he feels partially responsible. Ever since then, he has been able to see ghosts, so he occasionally works as a kind of exorcist who helps the spirits move on to wherever they are supposed to go. At the beginning of this story, he's operating as a detective when the girl he's tailing is murdered.

This book started out fair, but irked me more and more as I progressed....more
Colin Leslie
ou will be seeing a lot more of Gary McMahon over the next few years. With a number of publishing deals already signed and no doubt more on the way he is fast becoming one of the most prolific writers around, thankfully he is also one of the most talented. Much of his previous work has been nominated for awards and has gathered widespread critical acclaim so his star is certainly in the ascendancy. Now comes the possibility of that tough transition from successful genre writer to mass market bes...more
Poppet
I have just completed this book for review and find only one recent comparison for you. Pretty Little Dead Things is the ghostly equal to Constantine.

Gary manages to make you feel the very real fear of being able to see the dead and having absolutely no control over it. On so many levels I would go before a court and swear this author really has walked this realm himself, because he does it so convincingly.

There is no doubt in my mind that Gary has tapped into the psyche you had as a child when...more
Sharon
Very dark detective, ghost fantasy story with just a smidgeon of humour...I just loved Trevor Dove !

Totally engrossing read, flew through the 400 odd pages.

Bargain price 99p. Well edited.

Can't wait to read the sequel.
Shaun
Some beautiful prose with detailed characters that come alive on the page, but I felt the story became a little convoluted towards the end, hence the reason for it being only four stars. Still a very good read that I would highly recommend.
Tanya
It felt like the chapters were written separately, not in order and then slapped together. Timelines would jump around with no clear marking, there were conflicting references. Story wasn't strong enough to handle these annoyances for me.
Ross Warren
It’s all about the prose. Some writers produce technically brilliant prose that can be studied and given as examples in writing courses but reads on the page as dry and lifeless. Others create sentences that may not conform to expected convention but hit emotional heights and propel the reader along. The best writers combine the two to create prose that sings to the reader evoking all the emotions and eliciting responses from all of the five senses so that scenes spring to vivid life in the mind...more
Janette Fleming
Thomas Usher sees dead people – the bigger problem is that worse things can see him...

Thomas Usher is a tortured soul, weighed down with guilt after the death of his wife and child following a car accident which left them dead and him with the ability to see dead people.

I wanted to read his book because I was curious to find out how Thomas Usher compared to John Connolly’s Charlie Parker with similar circumstances.

There are strong similarities in the characters and their situations but that is w...more
Richard Wright
In a world packed with first person supernatural thrillers, you really need to bring something new to the field if you want to make an impression. What McMahon offers up is a world view stripped of joy and hope, creating a bleak, sunless environment that's refreshing. Thomas Usher, narrator of the piece, is an emotionally crippled hero, unable to move on from the death of his wife and child many years before, in what he has long believed to be a tragic car accident. Cursed somehow with the abili...more
Tony
This book was highly recommended to me by my evil twin.

I started reading this book a couple of months ago whilst in the car on the way back from holiday. That was a big mistake. The start of this book builds up to a horrid and life ending car crash. I couldn’t carry on reading it in the car as it was freaking me out a bit. I do not freak out very often because of a book. Unfortunately this led to me put the book down and forget about it. Thankfully reviews for the second book in the series and t...more
Barry Huddleston
“Pretty Little Dead Things” is an excellent dark detective / horror novel. McMahon created an interesting world where reality and the spiritual world collide. I really enjoyed the description of northern England in those dark and shadowy terms. It really gave a dark vibe to the story that goes so well with the character of Thomas Usher.

After the loss of his wife and daughter, Thomas Usher is able to see the dead. Usher investigates the death of the daughter of a widely known businessman, and plu...more
Andre Farant
Okay, after reading the following sentence, promise you’ll stick around and keep reading: Pretty Little Dead Things is about a man who can see and communicate with the dead. I know, I know, you’ve seen this one and, in the end, Bruce Willis is a ghost, but, seriously, don’t move and be still because this one is well and truly worth it.

As I mentioned, Pretty Little Dead Things is about a man named Thomas Usher. About fifteen years before the story begins, Usher was in a car accident. Both his wif...more
Ubie
After I first started reading this book i couldn't really get into it which was caused more by it simply not being the right time. I was attempting to jump genres and that doesn't always work out so well for my personal reading experience. I really enjoy the way Mcmahon writes and feel that his ability to use paranormal/horror plot lines to express philosophical and or even spiritual understandings is what holds my attention and keeps me following along. I don't want the fact that this book took...more
Teresa
Ok, so maybe Gary McMahon is going to read this and I hate giving negative feedback to someone who has obviously risen through the bookshelves the hard way but well here goes, I couldn't enjoy this book. Sure it had some good things going for it: intense moments, surreal horror, a damaged hero but they kept getting swamped by a plot that had me re-reading sections because things didn't make sense.
There was too much that the author included which was supposed to shock or horrify us but without s...more
Debbie Johansson
I liked the premise of this story - that Thomas Usher is a man that can see the dead. Despite this main character being depressed and riddled with guilt, the story hooked me in from the beginning. I thought the author's use of first person narrative was done fairly well. There were moments, however, when the narrator jumps back to events in his past in the middle of scenes that left me a bit confused at times. When a major incident occurs, involving a close friend, I hoped for a satisfying concl...more
Neil Mudde
Weird, strange, somehow spellbinding, but to have 3 dead victims swinging on a rope in your upstairs, is a bit weird, I am not a total disbeliever in the fact that we may connect with those who have died, but really need a bit more proof, have attended spiritualists meeting, and there seems to be a lot of guessing, and fishing, then when someone from beyond comes through they tend to describe many likely persons, like I belong to a mature social men's group, once in a while someone dies, and som...more
Craig
This one started out well--the story of a "psychic" detective, if you will, who can see the dead and use that power to his advantage in the cases he takes on--and progressively got worse and worse as it went on. More and more surreal, less and less coherent, until it came to a real mess of a conclusion. This idea had (and has) potential, but McMahon really needs to work on his story structure and try to keep things grounded. At times, it was reminiscent of Ramsey Campbell for the focus on urban...more
Nayu
I never felt that urge to continue reading, I just decided to. It was a good book, but it wasn't as good as I'd hoped. The first third part was a bit slow, then in the second third it felt like things were finally starting to connect and get interesting, then for me at least, the last part fell flat. The absolutely last pages were alright, of course I'd wanted a bit more "finished" end but I know that this is a series so I also knew that wouldn't happen. Conclusion: It was well written, it was i...more
Andy
Thomas Usher is a man who has a sixth sense and so can see the dead.
Think ghost whisperer but on a much darker level.Usher becomes involved with the police in an investigation into the disappearance of three girls.Pretty Dead Things is a very dark and bleak novel,with no redeeming characters,some powerful imagery that will stay in the mind,and perhaps should be avoided by those who are easily spooked.I liked it but only 3 stars,though I will buy and read the sequel.
Kilgallen
WOW.....I usually don't enjoy first person naratives. I usually don't enjoy non linear story lines. I usally don't relate to male protagonists.

This book however broke down all those norms for me!

The pace, once I got into the time shifts, was extreemly quick. The charaters were not very likable, but I was driven to find out what was going to happen to them next. And the alternate reality images described were pure acid trip gone wrong!!!

Stunning novel!
Andy Haigh
I was really looking forward to this book as it is set in the cityI am from, however I was disappointed.
The lead character is a tortured soul, so much so that I felt it too.
Billed as a crime detective/horror, I felt that the story didnt totally fulfill either, leaving the reader a little confused.
However, I thought the writing was good, and some stand out moments suggest the author will have a great future, and hopefully fulfill my expectations.
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Gary McMahon lives, works and writes in West Yorkshire but posseses a New York state of mind. He shares his life with a wife, a son, and the nagging stories that won’t give him any peace until he writes them.
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