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Fetch Philips has nothing left to believe in. Which is why he's surprised when the people of Sunder City start to believe in him...

Rumour has it that Fetch is only one who can bring magic back into the world. So when a man is murdered in a way that can only be explained as magical, Fetch is brought in on the case. A case which just might unearth things best left buried...

This sequel to The Last Smile in Sunder City follows the adventures of Fetch Phillips - a character destined to be loved by readers of Ben Aaronovitch, Jim Butcher and Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

448 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 22, 2020

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Luke Arnold

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 327 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
October 26, 2020
ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

It feels good to be back in Sunder City.

I can’t be the only one who thinks that the concept of time is utterly broken this year. When I was reading Dead Man in a Ditch, the second book in The Fetch Phillips Archives by Luke Arnold, I was surprised to find myself still remembering a lot of details from the first book. Turns out that I read The Last Smile in Sunder City back in January. That is wild to me, I genuinely thought I was reading Arnold’s debut last year instead of this year. On the other hand, it’s pretty cool that Arnold managed to release the sequel to his debut seven months after his debut’s publication date.

“The world had been reset and everything could be rediscovered. For an engineering genius who had already mastered so many disciplines, being able to write the rulebooks from the very beginning was a gift, like forgetting the end of your favorite story so you can read it as if for the first time.”

Magic is still gone, but there’s a man murdered inexplicably, and it seems that the only logical explanation behind the cause of death is the use of magical power. Fetch is hired to solve this mystery, and what he uncovers on his investigation reveals deadly secrets that will affect the citizens of Sunder City. Honestly, if you’ve read and enjoyed The Last Smile in Sunder City, there’s a good chance that you’re going to enjoy Dead Man in a Ditch as much or more. Arnold’s debut was a novel filled with self-contemplation about regrets and redemption, and although I enjoyed it, I understand that readers who want more actions out of their urban fantasy read might crave for more, and that’s what Arnold did here. The flashback sequences were fewer, and the tensions were ramped up further. There were several occasions in this murder-mystery focused novel where the structure of the story felt like a chain of novellas instead of one continuous string of events. However, as I progressed reading, I was delighted to found that every sub-cases that Fetch found himself into were all connected with each other.

“You still think, after everything that happened, that what you do doesn’t matter? That because you take your orders from someone else, that you’re no longer accountable for your actions? Nothing is just a job, Fetch. Especially now. Not at a time like this.”

Almost the entirety of the first book was centered around Fetch Phillips, and I’m glad that there were definitely more important side characters spotlighted here. I loved the distinctive voices that Arnold imbued into Fetch’s narrative. I’ve mentioned this in my review of the first book, but this series is filled with some thought-provoking passages that I thoroughly enjoyed. Redemption is still the key themes of the plot, but additionally, Arnold displays the crucial necessity of focusing on what truly matters instead of being stuck in the past. The path of improvement, rebuilding, and responsibilities might be difficult, but it’s always a better choice than not moving on. Also, there were a few social commentaries that felt incredibly relatable and relevant about the danger of easy accessibility to weapons. One example:

“You’ve touched the pistol. Nobody needs to show you how to hold it or the way to make it work. It is the most elegantly designed piece of evil I have ever seen. From the moment you pick it up, you want to use it, don’t you think? It’s almost impossible not to.”

There seems to a sense of comfort from reading Arnold’s take on urban fantasy. Maybe it’s the melancholic tone of the story that tends to appreciate solitude rather than dismiss it. This doesn’t mean that the moments of loneliness were ever absolute. Fetch does have a small number of companions that he keeps and trusts, but each appreciation towards the benefit of being alone occasionally seems to elevate the preciousness of his relationships with them, and that’s something I can relate to. Grab a tea, coffee, or a beer, pick your elixir, sit down, and let Luke Arnold welcome you back to Sunder City with Dead Man in a Ditch. I’m not sure whether this will be a trilogy or more; I hope there will be more because although this was great, I personally think that urban fantasy is a type of subgenre that starts reaching its stride only after three or four installments are published. And this is definitely an urban fantasy series to keep on your radar.

“We have our long talks and our secrets, years of adventure by each other’s side, but try as we might,” he put his whole hand across my face and squeezed it like he was trying to crack my skull, “we can never break through. I will never get inside your head and you will never really know what is happening in mine. That is our curse, boy. Each and every one of us.” He took his hand away and his eyes glowed bright green. “We are all alone.”

Official release date: 24th September 2020 (UK) and 22nd September 2020 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Devin, Hamad, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Zoe.
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
366 reviews3,060 followers
September 10, 2020
Such an addicting read that was impossible to put down. Compared to the first one which had it's slower moments, this sequel is a constantly moving roller coaster ride. There were so many different scenes crammed into this book, I feel like I've read 10.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
699 reviews868 followers
December 2, 2020
Dead Man in a Ditch continued the compelling tale of Fetch Phillips and Sunder City, and I welcomed its melancholic embrace.

Ah, Fetch Phillips - could there ever be a main protagonist that make you feel so torn between forgiving, or forsaking him for the utterly devastating mistake that he made in a rush of poorly managed emotions. Maybe there was but I've yet to come across one like him in my reads so far. I, for one, am sympathetic to his plight. How many of us really could lay claim to not having made mistakes that we've regretted? Practically none of us I would think, unless you're inanimate or have absolutely no emotions that could drive your decisions. With Fetch though, he had to live with an egregious error that stares him in his face every waking hour of his life. Ever since the first book, I've found Fetch to a wholly realistic character. He may not be likeable to some readers, but I found authenticity in his, admittedly sometimes selfish, quest for redemption. And his voice is refreshing in a morbidly humourous way. It's like one had to learn to laugh at one's self-inflicted misfortune, or else just go insane.

There's something different about Luke Arnold's take on urban fantasy as well. While it has the usual magical creatures like elves, faes, gnomes, orcs and shapeshifters, it is non-formulaic in that the narrative dealt with magic having disappeared from the face of the earth. At the hands of human, no less. Instead of the typical plot of magic imperiling life on earth, the narrative carried more commentary on the social and ecological impact from humankind. Or at least, that's how it came across to me. There is one particularly controversial topic being addressed in Dead Man in a Ditch, one which resonated keenly with my view. I would prefer not to reveal what it was because it is linked to a mystery that Fetch was working on early in the book.

At first, the story seemed almost episodic as Fetch moved from one investigation to another. It didn't take too long, however, for a cohesive story to emerge. There is a bit more action in this book compared the The Last Smile in Sunder City, but it is still by no means comparable to the usual urban fantasy narratives. I still find the setting bleak and the tone melancholic as Fetch goes about his way as a Man for Hire for non-humans as a means to help the best he could. Honestly, this series could almost be named Down and Out in Sunder City for his life and living conditions are downright miserable. But at the same time, there's just this tiny glimmer of hope dangling invitingly to lure the reader (and our MC) to dare to hold out for something better. Fetch may think himself without friends and that no one cares about him, and it's those little moments where he appeared to be proven wrong that made it all so worthwhile - both for him and my aching heart. Luke Arnold's writing continued to impress me. The gritty, noir elements are delivered with a lyrical ease that just worked and fit Fetch's story.

I expected to enjoy reading Dead Man in a Ditch, and I was not disappointed in the least.  What I didn't expect was how much it made me think. In fact, it's an odd coincidence that I was finishing up Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens as I was reading this. There are shared themes here I believe about humankind that was felt more keenly in this sequel.  If you've read and liked The Last Smile in Sunder City, I'm quite certain you'll enjoy Dead Man in a Ditch as well.   All I can say now is that I will continue to look forward to reading more about Fetch Phillips and Sunder City.

You can pre-order a copy from: Book Depository (Free shipping) | Bookshop.org (Support Independent Bookstores) | Amazon UK | Amazon US

You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
293 reviews171 followers
August 15, 2022
Segunda novela de la serie 'Los archivos de Fetch Phillips', fantasía urbana con una trama detectivesca llena de acción y muy bien ambientada en un mundo deprimente y melancólico, con buenos personajes y un atormentado protagonista, bienentencionado pero a menudo incompetente, en busca de redención.

Una narración original y ágil en la que el humor sarcástico del protagonista aligera el dramatismo de la trama.
Profile Image for Elena Rodríguez.
581 reviews262 followers
December 13, 2021
" - You look at us, the ones who had magic in our hearts, and you think you know what we’re going through. But you don’t have no idea what we feel. You think that our power was snuffed out? Like a candle? No. It’s still here. I can feel it.
-Im sorry. I-
-Shut up. Just because you cannot see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t here. This is my body and these are my people. You can roll your eyes and laugh as much as you like but I will work to make myself, and anyone who comes to me, whole again."

La verdad es que ha sido una odisea terminar este libro. Justo cuando quise empezarlo me sucedió algo que me hizo dejar de leer y producirme un bloqueo lector de campeonato. Cada vez que intentaba cogerlo me agobiaba y el hecho que estuviera en inglés tampoco ayudaba mucho. Ahora que he vuelto a leer, aproveché la oportunidad y me lo terminé de una vez.

Me ha gustado mucho más que la primera parte. Ha habido un par de capítulos que pienso que sobraban o se me hacían muy densos, pero en general le doy un aprobado. Además, se nota que Luke Arnold está puliendo su forma de escribir.

El protagonista, Fetch, sigue igual de podrido que siempre. No hay cambios perceptibles en su forma de ver el mundo, es decir, ve todo a través de unas gafas bastante oscuras y pesimistas y todo lo que hace está mal.

“You think it is ridiculous to try to fight to something better? You don’t know how ridiculous you look right now. Walking around all long-faced, like the world is on your back.(…)Maybe the magic is gone and everybody in the world will soon be dead. But what if there is a way to change it and you don’t try because you are worried about looking stupid?”

También sigue sin haber tanto trasfondo del mundo ni del resto de los personajes. Pero, a pesar de ello te mantienen entretenidos porque el caso que se traen entre manos es bastante interesante.

A la espera de la tercera parte porque me ha dejado con buen sabor de boca. Además, pienso que es una serie que deberían tener en cuenta si les gusta la fantasía urbana detectivesca.

" Ohhh what a lovely boy is Fetch "
Profile Image for Sandra Uv.
1,044 reviews244 followers
April 27, 2022

Hoy os dejo mis impresiones de Hombre muerto en una zanja, segunda parte de La última sonrisa de Sunder City, escrito por Luke Arnold y publicado por Gamon Fantasy 🌺

🌹La primera parte me encantó, pero este segundo libro me ha gustado aún más
🌹Conócemos más en profundidad el personaje de Fletch, un hombre roto y desolado, pero con su característico sentido del humor totalmente sarcástico
🌹La trama sigue en la misma línea: un mundo antes mágico, ahora sin rastro magia y las criaturas antes mágicas buscando por todos los medios que vuelva su poder
🌹Sigue siendo un thriller noir con mucha acción, con una Sunder intentando sobrevivir, llena de grises y negros
🌹Es necesario leerse el primero libro para entenderlo mejor todo
🌹Tiene una trama mucho más profunda, humana y compleja de lo que parece en un primer momento

🥀Enseguida he averiguado la identidad del villano

Con esto, le voy a dar mi máxima nota porque aunque sea previsible quién es el villano, no me ha quitado las buenas sensaciones en ningún momento.


Y habrá tercera parte 🔥
Profile Image for Andrews WizardlyReads.
184 reviews316 followers
March 31, 2023
This one is a bit preachy for me.

The story is better and smother and flows better than Last smile. This is an improvement over the last book in aspects except one. The gun sub plot started out working for me. I thought it was creative but over the course of the book it stopped working for me.
Profile Image for Leona Lecturopata.
282 reviews65 followers
June 25, 2022
Me lo pasé genial con la primera entrega, La última sonrisa en Sunder City, y con esta me lo he pasado aún mejor. Creo que supera en todo a su predecesora y consigue que esa fusión entre novela negra y fantasía sea perfectamente natural.
Fetch Phillips es un protagonista estupendo, un perdedor que muy a su pesar se esfuerza en hacer lo correcto, y los secundarios que le acompañan también están a la altura.
No es una novela perfecta, pero se merece mis cinco estrellas sin ninguna duda.
Profile Image for Sayuri.
194 reviews25 followers
March 13, 2022
"En Sunder, los rumores se extienden como reguero de pólvora, y tú estás atrayendo bastante fuego. Susurros sobre lo que encontraste en la biblioteca. Cosas que quizás sepas. Eres el nuevo chico de portada de los misterios mágicos" (p. 39).

¿Cómo se puede seguir viviendo en un mundo roto? ¿Cómo podrías siquiera dar un paso adelante cuando todos a quienes alguna vez amaste o apreciaste ya no están? Hace ya varios años que la magia desapareció del mundo. Sin embargo, en Sunder City, una ciudad que a simple vista podría parecer completamente abandonada por los dioses, algunos lograron sobrevivir. Se adaptaron a sus nuevas condiciones y decidieron seguir adelante por medio de nuevos trabajos, oportunidades, o porque simplemente no tenían ningún otro lugar a dónde ir. Fetch Phillips es una de estas personas. Un detective privado que, detrás de una máscara de cinismo y despreocupación, oculta un pasado complicado. Uno que lo atormenta a diario, debido a su estrecha relación con la desaparición de la magia.

"La Coda había generado tantos monstruos. Tanto dolor. Pero nunca había sido reflejada tan a la perfección como en ese caso.
Aquella era una de las maravillas sagradas del mundo. Un símbolo pocas veces visto de lo hermosa que podía ser la vida, vuelto loco por un trozo de magia corrompida metiéndosele en la mente. La Coda había infectado a todo el mundo, pero nunca había visto una víctima más lamentable y aterradora" (p.192).

Luego de los sucesos ocurridos en el primer libro (La Última Sonrisa en Sunder City"), no es de extrañar que nuevos rumores estén empezando a correr por la ciudad. Rumores acerca de un detective que no solo fue testigo de un hecho imposible, sino que además, se encuentra investigando formas de recuperar la fuente de ese mismo hecho. Por ende, tampoco es de extrañar que ese mismo detective (Fetch) esté ahora involucrado en varias investigaciones. Especialmente si están íntimamente relacionadas con esos rumores que todos, particularmente él, insisten en creer como imposibles.

Una vez que terminé el primer libro de esta saga (que, por si no lo sabían, se convirtió en una de mis mejores lecturas del 2021), supe que la secuela sería uno de los títulos más anticipados de los próximos meses. Así que imagínense mi alegría cuando al finalizar Hombre muerto en una zanja, pude comprobar que fue exactamente lo que necesitaba para poder seguir amando esta historia. Más misterios, más personajes, pero sobre todo, un desarrollo más amplio y exhaustivo de las consecuencias de la Coda (la desaparición de la magia).

A pesar de todas las investigaciones en las que se encuentra involucrado Fetch, y todos los nuevos personajes presentados en esta entrega, en ningún momento me sentí abrumada por la historia. La prosa de Luke Arnold es fresca, llevadera, pero no por eso menos conmovedora. La historia es completamente atrapante, y el modo en que el autor va presentando los descubrimientos para luego unirlos al final, una maravilla.

Al tratarse de novelas escritas en primera persona, resulta inevitable que el principal foco de sus historias esté centrado en el protagonista. Todo lo que el lector conoce e infiere, lo hace por medio de la perspectiva de Fetch, y si bien al principio es un poco complicado empatizar con su actitud, a medida que la trama va avanzando, y particularmente en esta secuela, esto se vuelve mucho más sencillo. Porque se tiene un mayor conocimiento acerca del contexto del protagonista, pero también debido a que, por medio de sus mismas acciones, éste demuestra ser un personaje complejo con una empatía tremenda hacia todos aquellos seres afectados por sus malas decisiones. Esta novela, más allá de ser una de fantasía con tintes noir, también es una historia acerca de un personaje atormentado que busca redimirse para poder silenciar el terrible peso de la culpa que lo persigue. Una culpa con la que, asimismo, tendrá que enfrentarse cara a cara en esta novela, ya que el pasado, sin importar cuánto trates de evadirlo, siempre vuelve de una manera u otra.

En relación a esto, cabe destacar que, en esta secuela, también se explora con mayor profundidad la relación del protagonista con la ciudad; sobre aquello que realmente lo mantiene atado a ella. Hubo un suceso en particular que me rompió el alma en mil pedazos, y me encantó el modo en que el autor logró conectar esa necesidad de Fetch de permanecer en Sunder, con ese relámpago de esperanza destruido en cuestión de segundos. Les juro que en esa parte tuve que cerrar el libro durante unos momentos para poder digerir la magnitud de lo ocurrido. Fetch es un personaje que, durante toda la novela, insiste en confirmar la imposibilidad del retorno de la magia, tanto para sí mismo, como para los demás. Sin embargo, es durante ese momento desgarrador, cuando él logra encajar esa última pieza rota de su alma; ese lado desconocido de sí mismo que su propia culpa le había impedido reconocer. Qué maravilla de libro, por favor. La evolución del protagonista en éste es tremenda.

Por otra parte, amé los nuevos personajes que fueron introducidos en este libro. Entre ellos: Linda Rosemary, una mujer gato que intenta venderle un cuerno de unicornio falso a un conocido de Fetch; Carissa Steeme, una elfa desesperada por encontrar a su marido desparecido (y posiblemente muerto); y Deamar, un personaje misterioso sobre el cual no diré más para evitar spoilers. De alguna manera u otra, estos personajes serán fundamentales para el trascurso de esta historia, e independientemente de sus acciones y sus respectivas conexiones con el protagonista, todos me parecieron geniales.

En definitiva, una novela espectacular que disfruté tanto como la primera parte. Perfecta para quienes disfrutan de la fantasía urbana y de las novelas de detectives. Si aún están considerando empezarlas, no lo duden más. Son increíbles y ya están disponibles en todas las librerías de Argentina. Además, va a tener una tercera parte que espero que salga pronto.

Mil gracias a la editorial Gamon por el ejemplar anticipado de la novela. La disfruté un montón.
Profile Image for Diana.
9 reviews1 follower
September 23, 2020
I can't say how much I've been looking forward to this book since reading The Last Smile in Sunder City last February, and because I was looking forward to it so much, it's impossible to overstate just how disappointed I was in it.

For what it's worth, the writing, stylistically, is very good. It was smoother, better-written (again, stylistically), and more action-packed than the first, while expanding on the lore of the universe in a way that felt much bigger than The Last Smile in Sunder City.

I caught on early on that my personal favorite character (Hendricks) was going to be brought back, which made me even more excited. I was mildly disappointed when I realized he was going to serve as the villain this time around, but about two-thirds of the way through the book, I was just as convinced as Fetch Phillips, the main character, that his actions and beliefs were justified, even if his ultimate plan was too extreme.

And then, the end.

The villains of the story? An old, bisexual, disabled elf whose body has been ruined and whose life and career have been tragically cut short (by humans), a werecat who has turned to grifting after her entire family was killed (by humans) and a mentally ill wizard who was falsely accused of murder and almost imprisoned for life (by humans).

The heroes? Fetch Phillips, the human protagonist, and the entire police force, who Fetch had, up until the end, referred to as pigs before they teamed up. (ACAB, baby!)

Somewhere in the middle? Perhaps the most classic bad guy of the modern age: two brothers (also humans) who are mass-producing deadly weapons and have hidden the fact that the city's power source has not actually died out so they alone can tap into it and profit from it.

If, like me, you thought, "Yes, the trampled-on minorities of this cast of characters, who have all suffered immeasurably at the hands of humans and are now watching them seize power and control by being your classic Scooby-Doo capitalist dickwads, should stop them from doing that and would be right to do so," you are apparently halfway to becoming a radical that must be stopped (the book's word, not mine.)

To be fair, Fetch goes along with the plan to stop the evil power corporation at first, and does recognize that they are evil. Then, apropos of almost nothing, his oldest friend suggests blowing up the entire city, because everyone knows when you give a radical an inch, they'll take a mile.

The innocent families of Sunder City are going to be deprived of jobs because the radicals want to stop the power company. The innocent cops of Sunder City are dying because the radicals have started rioting in the streets. Taking direct action against your oppressors is wrong, says the man who is in every way the same as the oppressors, and will inevitably lead to violent extremism.

If Luke Arnold had written The Hunger Games, Katniss would have been the antagonist.

I discovered while reading the afterword that this sequel was written before The Last Smile in Sunder City was released in February 2020, which means that the villains' blatant similarities to recent real-world protestors wasn't intentional. But victims fighting back against the system that victimized them have existed throughout history, and the implications of making them the villains are impossible to ignore, even if the timing just an unfortunate coincidence. As it is, it's just astonishingly tone-deaf.

For a man that starred in a series famous for unburying its gays, I'm still dumbfounded that he created such a likable LGBT character in the first book, whose death was indirectly caused by the protagonist, only to be revealed to be not dead, made "evil" and killed again by the protagonist. This would have been a little more understandable, perhaps, if the other LGBT characters weren't two sadistic plastic surgeons and a turncoat, sellout nonbinary demon (though I did appreciate the inclusion of a nonbinary character in the first place.) This universe is notoriously dark, and LGBT characters shouldn't be exempt from the same fate as so many other non-LGBT characters in the same story just for being LGBT. But when one of a handful of genuinely good characters does a complete 180 just for the sake of being the new villain in town, while also happening to be LGBT, it does twist the knife when his straight, human best friend kills him a second time.

I couldn't imagine ever saying this even halfway through this book, but I doubt I would buy a third in this series after being so incredibly let down by Dead Man in a Ditch.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lezlie The Nerdy Narrative.
408 reviews412 followers
August 5, 2022
DEAD MAN IN A DITCH, the second installment in Luke Arnold's The Fetch Phillips Archive LEVELED UP. The prose was much more cohesive, the plotlines so full of mystery, intrigue and chaos....yet through it all, Fetch never seemed to lose his humor. (Or his ability to attract trouble!)

Before I go any further, I once again immersion read this one (which is to listen to the audiobook while following along in my physical book) and Luke Arnold perfectly captures the tone and nuance of a noir setting. I'll probably find myself disappointed when my next noir/urban fantasy gumshoe isn't narrated by him, lol.

In DEAD MAN IN A DITCH, we find ourselves back in Sunder City where Fetch Phillips has become the "man who looks for ways to bring back magic" - much to his chagrin. He's hired by a Detective Simms to investigate a murder where the cause of death appears to be from magic. Sounds simple enough, right? Far from it. While Fetch hunts for the killer, he uncovers some shady dealings in Sunder City, a dangerous machine (in the wrong hands, of course) and an unexpected ally.

I loved the first book in this series - so much so that I continued right along into this one. Luke Arnold really turned it up a notch on all fronts: the plotlines were all so engaging that I didn't mind when we moved around between them, depending on where Fetch was in his investigations. The storytelling was superb - this author has the timing nailed when it comes to one-liners to bring comedy to the situation at hand. The character development of Fetch - oh my gosh, it was heart wrenching AND SO FREAKING GOOD! I was even brought to tears at one point in this one. The character of Fetch and the hope of the citizens of Sunder City that magic will one day return are my two favorite things in this series. If you haven't already guessed by now, I'll be reading that third book very soon!
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,456 reviews513 followers
September 27, 2020
“But Sunder City makes a few things without fail: hunger in winter, drunks at night and trouble all year round.”

Picking up a few months after The Last Smile of Sunder City ended, nothing much has changed for Fetch Phillips ‘Man For Hire’, but he is about to learn that his beloved adopted home, Sunder City, has been changing around him in Dead Man in a Ditch, the second urban fantasy novel from Luke Arnold.

When Fetch is asked by the police to examine a dead body in the Bluebird Lounge, and stunned to find the man has been killed with magic, since it’s been seven years since The Coda vanquished all magic from the world. Fletch believes the magic is lost forever, and he’s determined to prove it... but what if he’s wrong?

After establishing character and world building in the first novel, Dead Man in a Ditch has more action as Fetch moves between a variety of investigations, most of which lead him into trouble, from searching for an errant husband, to tracking the origins of a dangerous new machine, battling with a crazed unicorn, and hunting down a killer wizard. All roads eventually lead to a company looking to make their mark, and a battle to save the City.

That’s not say Arnold doesn’t continue developing both the world and his characters.
New characters are introduced, most notably a grifting werecat named Linda Rosemary, but it’s the unexpected return of Fetch’s former mentor, Hendricks, that has the most impact on the plot. Suffering from the effects of Magic’s withdrawal Hendricks is not the man, in body or spirit, that Fetch remembers, putting the two on an inevitable collision course.

Though perhaps a little long, the story is fast paced, with an entertaining mix of drama and dark humour. The City, and Fetch, are still rather dirty and bleak but there is a little light breaking through.

An imaginative and enjoyable sequel, I’m looking forward to Fletch’s next adventures in Sunder City.
Profile Image for The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew). .
296 reviews617 followers
October 13, 2020
I’m not an urban fantasy fan. It isn’t one of my favourite or ‘go-to‘ genres, but I loved Arnold’s debut The Last Smile in Sunder City and I was thrilled to be back in the grime of Sunder City and the melancholic embrace of Fetch Phillips in Dead Man in a Ditch.

Six years ago a devastating event that has come to be known as ‘the Coda’ killed magic, like flipping a switch, in an instant it was gone, disappearing from the world in an instant. Humans had hoped to harness magic for themselves, taking control of the source, but all they did was break the world and leave it without magic. The magic also left the magical races who all had a spark inside and were connected to the source, that connection was severed and many died, many others were transformed as the magic left their bodies leaving them disfigured and mutated, some went mad from the loss and some survived relatively unscathed too. Populations were decimated, all of the creatures lost a part of themselves, everything that they were and they are now hollow, empty shells of what they once were, living a half-life, struggling to adapt and slowly fading from the world. The loss of magic also ended many industries too, dwarven forges went cold, goblin-made machinery stopped working and in Sunder City, itself, the foundation of the City was built on a vast underground fire pit that by way of magic-powered the city and with the loss of magic the city lost its power source.

Dead Man in a Ditch starts a few months after the end of The Last Smile in Sunder City. After the events that took place in The Last Smile in Sunder City there are murmurings on the streets and whispers in the wind about the possibility of magic returning to the world and Fetch Phillips has gained a reputation as the person who is looking into the possible return of magic, meaning that his services as the ‘Man for Hire‘ are in more demand than ever before.

Fetch is called to assist the Sunder City Police Department when Lance Niles, a newly arrived to Sunder City human businessman who is buying up a lot of property is killed in The Bluebird Lounge a human-only members’ club. The cause of death looks magical which should be impossible as magic is gone from the world, but, as inexplicable as it seems, the grisly death looks unusual and the killing points to magic being used. Usually Fetch has a very tenuous relationship with the police, namely, they tolerate, often beat and interrogate him. With the cause of death looking suspiciously magical and his ability to ask questions and go places that the police can’t Fetch is hired by Detective Simms, in an ‘off the books’ and non-official capacity to look into the killing, uncover the truth and find out if the murder was committed using magic and if so, find out how magic has returned to the world. With the promise of a rich reward Fetch agrees to help and hopes to find a rational explanation behind the death rather than magical to quell and put an end to the burgeoning rumours regarding the return of magic, it is gone and never coming back. As well as searching for a killer who killed in an impossible way Fetch has a few other small cases to contend with too. At first, the cases all seem separate, but soon tentative strands are reaching out from each case, connecting them together and they spiral outwards with far-reaching consequences for Fetch, the whole of Sunder City and for the future.

Fetch is the ‘Man for Hire’ a private investigator who, in the post-magic world plies his trade on the streets of Sunder City and works solely for the now non-magical races, they are his clients, he won’t work for humans. Fetch does this to try and atone for his past mistakes and for his part in killing magic. Each case that he takes is done to help with the guilt that he feels for his role in breaking the world in the hope of being able to readdress the balance and to balance the scales, though he knows that they will never truly be balanced. Fetch is worn down by life, lost in a sea of regrets, weighed down by the burdens that he carries and he is a man who walks alone with a darkness inside of him. Fetch hates himself and humanity for the suffering that they have caused, he can’t erase the past, the mistakes that he has made or right the wrongs that he has committed, but deep down, buried somewhere in the depths of his tattered and torn soul he believes that he can still do some good in the world.

In Dead Man in a Ditch, we see Fetch come face-to-face with his past and a ghost that has haunted him for six long years making certain elements of the story deeply personal to him. As a character, Fetch is introspective, often times internally warring with himself and although he is mired in constant misery there is a charm to his world-weary melancholy. Arnold does a tremendous job of bringing to life those feelings of self-loathing that Fetch feels, they emanate off the pages and strange as it sounds those traits are what make Fetch such a likeable character who you can’t help but root for.

The only real complaint and it’s only a minor quibble that I had with The Last Smile in Sunder City was the lengthy information dumps that populated the narrative. Arnold would leave the current story, wander off and you would find yourself in a vast well of information about the history of the world, a specific species, etc. While informative and used as a way to add a deeper understanding of the world they didn’t feel natural, interrupted the flow and took you out of the story. This time around, in Dead Man in Ditch with Arnold already laying the foundations of his world in the previous book he is able to focus far more on the current story that he is telling allowing a far better flow to his storytelling across the pages. Any information that is required to add backstory, context and additional depth is told through short flashbacks by Fetch, himself, his experiences and his conversations with other characters and it feels far more organic, an extension rather than a detour and is used sparingly to augment and enhance the story.

Along with Fetch, who I felt continued to grow and show impressive development there are a variety of other characters in Dead Man in a Ditch, the good, the bad, the shades of grey, some returning and some new who all contribute to and round-out the story.

As a setting Sunder City is vividly realised with a lived-in and well-worn feel to it. It is pitted, tarnished and decaying with the colour bled out. Populated by both humans and non-humans it has seen better days and like the once magical creatures, it is also now diminished by the loss of magic with the residents desperately trying to get by, to make a living and survive in the post-magic world that left the races broken and bereft. In Dead Man in a Ditch, Arnold delves deeper into the economical ramifications that the loss of magic has had, the politics and we see far more of Sunder City and the wider world, visiting various unsavoury districts in the city, itself and travelling to a couple of locations in the surrounding area outside of the city.

There’s far more action in Dead Man in a Ditch than there was in The last Smile in Sunder City, namely, Fetch getting beaten up, a lot, he really takes a pounding on numerous occasions throughout the story. Honestly, everyone seems to love beating up Fetch and it is a favourite hobby of the population of Sunder City. While I wouldn’t class Dead Man in a Ditch as action-orientated, the extra action was a nice touch and welcome addition to the story.

Dead Man in a Ditch, like its predecessor, is well-written by Arnold, but there are definite improvements to be seen, he has honed his craft and sharpened his skills as a writer. The writing is sombre in tone and grimly lyrical with many meaningful sentences, thoughtful and deep that hit hard and some unique turns of phrase to be found along with a gallows style of humour that is also incorporated.

Reading my review of Dead Man in a Ditch it may all sound rather bleak and depressive and while it is definitely a case of the sun not shining on Fetch it is a tone that fits the story, the setting and the character perfectly making Dead Man in a Ditch enjoyable and entertaining. For Fetch and for Sunder City, you can’t go back, but you can move forward and well, there is always the chance that you will find a fire in the dark to light the way and give you a glimmer of hope that not all is lost for the future.
Profile Image for Zandt McCue.
198 reviews24 followers
July 27, 2020
"I don't believe in second chances. I don't believe you can undo what was done. But if I didn't believe I still had it in me to do something good, I would have jumped out the Angel door a long time ago."

In the sequel to Luke Arnold's debut novel, he writes the story I would expect and then slaps me in the face for getting too cocky. And this after I wrote his parents that lovely letter!

For his first novel I was caught up in the joy of reading it but for this read-through, I took tons of notes and kept analyzing what was written and working out where I thought the story was headed. Despite my best efforts, I turned out shocked, then furious, then uncertain, then a whole range of other emotions as things transpired that were entirely out of my control and not in the least how I pictured the story going. The last fifth of the book strapped me to a BMX bike and said "Here, good luck!"

Well, damn.

Which isn't to say the other eighty percent of the book is predictable. I was being very critical and going "Wouldn't it be nice if..."

Is it his background in movies and television that taught Luke how to tell a story in this manner? Dead Man In A Ditch is a perfect complete package. If I was a teacher I would give it an A++.

You can't have a title like that and not have a worthy body count. What a delivery. After taking a one-off job for a friend, Fletch is called upon by the police department to investigate a murder that appears to be accomplished with the use of magic. Between the two novels, rumors have sprung about that Fletch is the go-to guy for magic related investigations. They say he is on a quest to bring magic back. Fletch is still in the position we last left him in, so as readers we know he isn't misleading when he says he doesn't believe he can be much help. Magic is gone from this world.

But Magic isn't always the answer.

Where in the first book Luke Arnold wrote about a world post-magic where inhabitants are struggling to find their places in the unnatural order of things, Dead Man in a Ditch introduces us to what could technically be referred to as an industrial revolution. It is mostly behind the scenes until it's not, but Humans have been busy since the events of the Coda. Fletch takes on a multitude of cases which ultimately put him in the midst of a battle that never truly ended, just changed forms.

Last time, we viewed the aftermath of the Coda with a grittiness. The relationships we develop this time around or interactions we witness have a deep emotional quality to them. The suffering and loss which I mostly disregarded from the first book hit home here. The part with the Faeries has me still asking questions. I'll avoid spoilers but I wish we revisit this in a sequel.

Somewhere in Luke Arnold's house is a very worn copy of a Mythical Creature Encyclopedia or else he has a very questionable browser history. I was excited to see a Goblin have a big role that didn't involve berserker rage or banking. Then came the Succumbae who do extreme body modification and steal every scene they're in. There's also a Unicorn used unconventionally in a scene that brings the desperation we all felt when watching *that* moment in Neverending Story. It's not what you expect. And here I cackle like a madman.

The majority of our supporting cast is back. Warren, Ritchie, Simms, Baxter, and others. I did notice an omission who gets name dropped at the very end of the book but had no role here otherwise. It was once I sat down to write this review that I realize books one and two are distinctly different. I don't know what type of contract was signed for the series. If it's write-as-you-go or if there is a planned three to seven book saga we are journeying on. Outside of setting up Fletch with rumors of what he investigates, certain events from book one have no other connection to this story. Which is both a relief and a curiosity. On one hand, this allows us to branch out and explore the world without being stuck with one group of creatures over another. On the other hand, it means some people are out there running around doing who knows what. We don't, but it's not important. The bigger story does carry over and it really threw me.

I knew what the stakes were, but what a way to break a man.

Dead Man in a Ditch takes us to the seedier parts of Sunder City. On a job about a missing person, Fletch winds up at a casino and brothel where us readers are taught a new card game. I don't know our equivalent but it sounded fun, the rules are all there, and I anxiously want to play it. I'm making the call right here: Orbit should give Luke Arnold his own author page dedicated to the series and have a playable version of the game online. You can play against other fans, take which fantasy creature are you quizzes...the internet goes crazy for that stuff. Join the Opus! Join the Army! Join the Resistance! Join the Sunder City PD! Join the Library is what my badge would be. Geeze.

What's up with all the Werecats?

I googled it and according to Wikipedia: Werecat folklore is found on all continents EXCEPT Antarctica and Australia and is generally based on wild felines native to the area. Did Luke watch a lot of Thundercats as a child?

Actually, correction incoming. What I thought was Wikipedia is a website called Wiki Fur which is ahem: the free encyclopedia written by and for furries. What dark hole did the internet drop me down to come up with that one? Well, you know what, that's google's top website on the creature so they would be the experts.

Dead Man in a Ditch takes Fletch's past and brings it guns-a-blazing into the present. The momentum is explosive. When all the pieces fall into place it is a radiant, head spinning, page-turner of a novel. But what does it mean? What does it MEAN?

It means when we aren't looking that the rug is going to get pulled out from under us. It means not everything that was lost is completely gone. It means there's hope. While some things will never be the same again, there is still a world. There is still a city. And however it will take him, there is Fletch Philips.
Profile Image for Gaston.
169 reviews11 followers
March 15, 2022
Bueno después de tanto Sanderson leer esto es un soplo de frescura. Es un libro sencillo y ligero que viene bien para distenderse y disfrutar.

En este segundo libro seguimos viendo como esta la vida de Fecth en Sunder City, como sigue tratando de lidiar con sus errores y como sigue tratando de no caer en depresión por lo que hizo con el mundo.
El mundo sigue sin magia y a la puerta de su negocio siguen llegando casos para resolver. A medida que toma esos casos de a poco se sigue acercando a posibles magias que quieren regresar, y a nuevos personajes que aparecen en su vida.

En este libro tenemos a una mujer gato que trata de sobrevivir como puede y que termina convirtiéndose en una investigadora también, es un gran personaje y probablemente lo que mas me gustó del libro. También tenemos a un personaje misterioso que aparece y nadie sabe quien es y que de alguna forma mata con una magia que enseguida sabemos que no es, sino que es una herramienta nueva del progreso. Se suman unos humanos que quieren cambiar las cosas en Sunder pero que no son de lo mas confiable. Y por ultimo dos Elfos que se terminan operando para parecer mas jóvenes. También hay algunos personajes mas terciarios ex mágicos que acompañan a los hechos. Obviamente estan muchos de los personajes que ya conocemos de libros anteriores, sobre todo los policias a los que siempre esta jodiendo.

Seguimos recorriendo el mundo donde se desarrollan pero sin salir de Sunder, metiéndonos en bajofondos o distintos lugares que en los libros anteriores no conocíamos. Para mi como punto flojo le falta aun mapita como para ubicarnos mejor en espacio. Ya que Sunder City es una parte muy importante de la historia, pero bueno yo soy medio fan de los mapas y por ahí a los demás no les importa tanto.

El libro queda cerrado pero no así la historia que creo que tiene una tercera parte en marcha. En este ultimo tramo lo vemos a Fletch tomando por fin su papel de detective y determinado a restaurar la magia del mundo, o por lo menos dejando todo de si para conseguirlo.
Profile Image for Bibliotecario De Arbelon.
248 reviews108 followers
March 23, 2022
Tenía ganas de regresar a Sunder City para ver cómo continuaban las aventuras de Fetch Phillips después de una primera parte que, aunque me gustó, me dejó un sabor agridulce.

En esta segunda entrega tenemos una trama más elaborada. Además de la investigación, la historia coge más fuerza política y social, dotándola de un trasfondo mucho más creíble. Seguimos conociendo más secretos sobre Sunder, la Coda y, también, empezaremos a conocer un poco del mundo circundante a la ciudad.

Se nota la evolución de Arnold respecto a La Última Sonrisa de Sunder City, ya no está el exceso de información, la escritura transmite más y la historia es mucho más dinámica. Además, la división en capítulos cortos ayuda mucho a ese dinamismo y cuesta dejar de leer para seguir conociendo que va a pasar.

Respecto a Fetch Phillips, he visto un personaje con más capas y más creíble que en la primera parte y un elenco de secundarios más que aceptable.

Aunque esta segunda parte, como la primera, podría considerarse autoconclusiva deja la puerta abierta para continuar con la historia. Tercera parte que, viendo la evolución positiva en esta segunda, voy a leer seguro.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews989 followers
November 20, 2020
The Last Smile in Sunder City was one of my favourite novels, a sprawling imaginative urban fantasy – so immersing myself back into that world was something I’d been looking forward to for a while.

Dead Man In A Ditch is once again pretty awesome, we are back with erstwhile hero Fetch Phillips, in a land devoid of magic and of hope. His own hand in what happened haunts him still and often gets him into trouble. He is an engaging character on so many levels and that plus the cleverly drawn setting just immerses you into the story immediately.

In this installment there seems to be nefarious magical goings on, drawing Fetch into a murder, a mystery and putting him in danger – it is cleverly and beautifully done.

Luke Arnold writes with a descriptive flair and the kind of attention to detail that really digs deep into his characters and their world. The many displaced magical creatures are intriguingly beautiful, the tone is darkly ironic and often randomly humorous. It has all the twists and turns of a crime novel with all the imaginative focus of a fantasy giving you the best of both worlds.

Always wildly entertaining but also an intelligent analogy of our actual world with all its prejudices, the Sunder City series is truly excellent and I can’t wait for the next book . But sssh…discover for yourselves.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Adriana Sandoval.
244 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2022
❤️‍🔥Dicen que el frío no te mata si logras recordar lo que se sentía al tener calor❤️‍🔥

4⭐️ Este libro me sorprendió en más de un sentido, es una fantasía muy diferente a las que yo había leído antes y eso ciertamente se agradece porque la novedad y lo distinto siempre se disfruta más.

❤️‍🔥Gracias a la editorial por el envío del ejemplar, descubrirlos a sido de lo mejor que me a pasado en este mundo de bookstagram por ser sus historias arte en todos los sentidos (me han enviado 3 libros y han sido muy buenos todos).

❤️‍🔥La historia de Fetch Phillips es muy fascinante, un hombre que a todas luces parece derrotado por las innumerables desgracias y malas decisiones a lo largo de su vida, pero que en el fondo es un tipo demaciado humano para su gusto, que comete errores y trata de seguir adelante como mejor sabe. En esta ciudad todos parecen derrotados desde que la magia se extinguió y sólo buscan la manera de regresarla para poder vivir, no sólo sobrevivir.
Las aventuras y el misterio que rondan a nuestro protagonista son muy entretenidas y te atrapan en cada página.

❤️‍🔥Esta historia tiene muchos matices, es divertida, con misterio, intriga y a un paso de ser distópica. Simplemente una gran fantasía urbana ❤️‍🔥
Profile Image for Hiu Gregg.
113 reviews156 followers
September 21, 2020
Enjoyed this one more than the first! It flowed a lot better, in my opinion, and gave a greater sense of the (evolving) world and the characters. Full review will hopefully drop within the week! ...once I write it.
Profile Image for Rifelaura.
305 reviews23 followers
March 23, 2022
Si la primera parte ya me gustó, y mucho, ¿qué puedo decir de esta en la que hay una evolución tan notoria? ¡Me ha fascinado! ¿Lo celebramos con una leche de álamo tostada?

Nos adentramos en una Sunder City tan o más decadente y oscura, pero en la que ha prendido una chispita de esperanza. ¿Es posible que la magia esté de vuelta? ¿Hay una oportunidad de recuperar lo que se perdió?

Esto nos deja con un Fetch mucho más atormentado y desesperado, pero igual de ebrio y sarcástico. Un personaje que mejora en cada página y que nos cautivará con sus no pocas imperfecciones. Es tal el grado de empatía, que resulta imposible no sufrir por él.

En cuanto a la trama, me ha parecido mucho más completa que la que veíamos en la primera parte. Ya conocemos el pasado de nuestro protagonista, por lo que los flashbacks no son necesarios. Ya sabemos cuáles son los entresijos de la ciudad y quiénes son sus habitantes, por lo que no necesitamos lecciones de historia. Así pues, la novela se centra en la acción y en los no pocos misterios a desentrañar y nos conduce, con un par de giros inesperados y un montón de malas decisiones, hacia un final de aquellos que te dejan con la boca abierta y con ganas de más.

Voy a necesitar un par de Clayfields para superarlo. De los fuertes.

No solo en el planteamiento de la trama y en el protagonista he notado una gran evolución, sino que la he visto, también, en el estilo del autor. Una narrativa, para mi gusto, más profesional y elaborada, pero sin perder su esencia y manteniendo la agilidad. Con un humor más inteligente, con personajes secundarios con una mayor interacción y con una historia sin cabos sueltos en las que todo cuanto sucede tiene una razón de ser.

Que no os de miedo adentraros en esta ciudad. Sólo por conocer a Fetch ya merece la pena. 
Profile Image for Laura (crofteereader).
916 reviews33 followers
December 10, 2020
I love this world and I really like Fetch for a main character, through whose eyes we get to see this world, but this story felt much more scattered than The Last Smile in Sunder City - with a series of small fragments scattered into the larger story (but, like, front-loaded), and even though they do end up being important, it made it harder to get into the story in the beginning.

I will say that Fetch's growth and the choices he has to make as a human surrounded by formerly-magical beings and newly-industrial humans who are standing at odds... It made you think and it showed a lot of potential for even more growth. He's definitely no longer the drunk PI that we met at the beginning of Smile.

So... Book three coming soon?
Profile Image for Tilly Booth.
181 reviews937 followers
June 2, 2021
LOVED. I had so many major emotions reading this book!! I loved this one more than I did the first as somehow everything just improved. The writing, the characters, the plot and so much more. I won't post any spoilers but highly recommend!
Profile Image for Dimitris Kopsidas.
246 reviews9 followers
April 3, 2023
This was on the same level as the first one, which means an enjoyable detective-fantasy read.
A bit predictable and not as expanded world and characters as I would have wanted, but still I had fun reading it.

Profile Image for Michelle Kobus.
763 reviews135 followers
February 1, 2021
Sadly, this one just didn't connect as well as the last book. It seemed like it was trying to be all action and make up for what could have been perceived as slowness in the first book, with all of the first book's worldbuilding and getting to know the characters. But the first book was around 350 pages and not actually slow, considering the low page count and there being a mystery to solve in addition to worldbuilding. So this was a bit too much in the opposite direction to make me happy. I'm not sure how I'd feel about a 3rd book in this series. I might check it out if and when it happens, but I can't say I'm excited for it anymore.
Profile Image for Borja.
431 reviews99 followers
January 28, 2022

La primera parte de la historia protagonizada por Fetch Phillips, publicada por Gamon Fantasy en castellano el pasado 2021, es una divertida fantasía urbana que destaca principalmente por un situarse en un mundo donde la magia ha terminado y, con ello, todas las ventajas que los distintos seres fantásticos que lo habitan pudieran tener.

Elfos, ogros, magos, dragones… todos ellos no son nada sin magia. ¿Qué sería de un elfo de cientos de años de vida sin magia? Pues su piel ya no estaría tan tersa como la de un joven humano y su apariencia no resultaría tan atractiva. Esta, entre otras muchísimas, son algunas de las situaciones que veíamos en el primer libro y que sigue siendo el gran punto fuerte de esta segunda entrega.

Hombre muerto en una zanja comienza con nuestro protagonista, Fetch, haciendo de guardaespaldas de un enano en una compra-venta de un cuerno de unicornio a una gata humana. Toda una declaración de intenciones por parte del autor de cara a los que las siguientes páginas nos van a ofrecer.

Esta nueva entrega de las aventuras de Phillips repite el esquema de novela detectivesca de la primera. Sus relaciones con la policía, el resto de seres de Sunder City y viejos personajes de su turbulento pasado son el ecosistema en el que nuestro detective tendrá que manejarse para resolver las muertes que empiezan a suceder en la capital. Unas muertes que no hacen sino volver a levantar la sospecha de que la magia que se supone desaparecida tras los eventos sucedidos seis años antes (y que se resumen en algunos capítulos de la primera novela) quizá no lo esté tanto.

Aprovechando la mención a la primera novela de la saga merece la pena decir que, para mi gusto, el ritmo de esta segunda es bastante mejor que el de aquella. Principalmente por el hecho de que Arnold no incluye múltiples flashbacks de la historia de Phillips y que ralentizaban la lectura de aquella primera historia. Era algo necesario, probablemente, pero el hecho de que esta novela sea única y exclusivamente el caso o casos que se van sucediendo hacen que la lectura sea más rápida y divertida.

En la balanza menos positiva, Fetch Phillips me sigue pareciendo un personaje poco destacable, superado por un mundo más sugerente y lleno de detalle del que el protagonista aporta como tal. Sinceramente, casi cualquiera de los teóricos secundarios que van apareciendo o repiten de la primera entrega me resultarian más interesantes como protagonistas que el propio Phillips.

Con todo esto, Hombre muerto en una zanja me parece una novela ligeramente superior a la primera. Más entretenida, más coral, mejor llevada, con un caso que implica más de lo que implicaba el de la primera novela y que deja un nuevo status quo a nuestro protagonista de cara a una tercera novela que verá la luz en inglés este 2022 y que leeré sin duda.
Profile Image for Geena K.
145 reviews9 followers
July 18, 2022

*Insert Country Boy I love you, ah 😛 vine*

LISTEN!!! TECHNICALLY he could qualify as country boy, given that Weatherly (an isolated human city and where Fetch grew up) was a far cry from what Sunder City is.

In the sequel to The Fetch Phillip’s Story, we watch Fetch swim in deep denial at the possibility of magic being back after the events of the previous book. Here we follow him as he joins hands with the cops (blegh) to solve the mystery of a possible magic murder. Fetch unravels secrets held by the citizens of the city, and how they’ve managed to cling on to magic despite the apparent drought. Along the way he faces old acquaintances and new enemies? allies?

There are significantly less info dumps in the sequel given that Arnold establish a good portion of world in the first novel and that gives us more time to dissect Fetch and his actions. Fetch finds a friend in Georgio, the man.. the myth…. the legend… who runs a breakfast joint under Fetch’s musty office. It was nice to see Fetch getting close to others, he’s been lone wolfing it since the Coda. Was also fun to read his developing relationship with the new Sunder City industrialist, Niles Thurston. Niles hires Fetch to help him solve the mystery of his brother’s murder, but during his search Fetch discovers a lot more than what he bargained for. Through the events of the book his need for therapy and rehab grows but it is what it is. Luke Arnolds doesn’t know what sequel sickness means, because this book was a banger.

Profile Image for Gritnay.
146 reviews38 followers
February 1, 2022
Even better than book one - kinda glad it took me a while to get to reading it as now the publication of book three is in only a few months!

Fetch is such a good grey character. The whole hat shop scene was a vivid delight that I would absolutely love to see played out on a screen. Including everything else about him, Sunder City and the diverse people of that world!

Thanks to Luke Arnold for writing this, really excited for book three!
Profile Image for Reme.
103 reviews36 followers
November 21, 2021
"I dont believe in second chances. I don't believe you can undo what was done. But if I didn't believe I still had it in me to do something good, I would have jumped out the angel door a long time ago."

Han transcurrido unos meses de los hechos que acontecieron en The Last Smile in Sunder City y algunas cosas han cambiado, como por ejemplo, la desesperanza ahora se ha convertido en lo contrario y los habitantes de Sunder empiezan a creer que la magia puede volver, ya que un hombre ha sido asesinado de una forma que sólo podría explicarse por la existencia de la magia.

Así, nos volvemos a encontrar con Fetch Phillips, que se mete de lleno en este misterioso y llamativo caso gracias a la llamada de la Detective de policía Simms. Un hombre yace muerto en una de las mesas de The Ditch y, al igual que en el primer libro, nos sumergimos de nuevo junto al detective en las calles de Sunder para recabar pistas, dónde conoceremos nuevos rincones, algunos bonitos y otros no tanto, lo mejor y lo peor de la ciudad, y donde Fetch conocerá a un nuevo elenco de personajes que le llevará a vivir alguna que otra aventura fuera de la ciudad, algo que nos permite ver cómo son los alrededores de Sunder, los secretos que encierra y cómo les ha afectado la ausencia de la magia. Dichas aventuras también le lleva a reencontrarse con un fantasma de su pasado, alguien muy apreciado aunque esconde unas peligrosas intenciones que le pondrá contra las cuerdas.

A diferencia de su predecesor, Dead Man in a Ditch tiene un ritmo trepidante que no baja ni un momento, ya que a excepción de un par de flashbacks, todo transcurre en el presente. Tiene una trama 100% detectivesca que va evolucionando a algo mucho mayor y que gira en torno a la pregunta de si es posible que vuelva la magia y hacia otros diversos temas que le sirve a Arnold, de nuevo, para hacer crítica. En este sentido, es una historia mucha más llena de esperanza y optimismo que la anterior y cuenta con muchos giros, brillantes todos, y mucho desarrollo para Fetch, que termina en un punto en el que puede crecer y cambiar aún más... o quedarse estancado. Confío mucho en Arnold porque hasta el momento todo lo ha hecho genial, por lo que espero que haga lo primero.

Sobre estas nuevas críticas, Arnold nos habla en esta ocasión de lo cruel que es el sistema capitalista, el uso de armas, el abuso de poder de los ricos sobre los pobres, la industrialización y centralización de las grandes urbes y cómo estás absorben y destruyen la vida y las posibilidades de las pequeñas aldeas, pueblos, etc, que existen a su alrededor. Es alucinante la habilidad que tiene para integrar de una forma tan magistral estas reflexiones en sus historias y lo bien que trata todas ellas.

Esta segunda parte cuenta con dos aspectos que también me gustaría destacar. La primera, es la interacción y la relación que se da entre dos de los personajes. Arnold nos muestra sin medias tintas cómo funcionan las relaciones tóxicas, de la manipulación y chantaje emocional por parte del abusador, del abuso de poder que existen en estas dinámicas y cómo la parte que la sufre está tan ciega y manipulada que no se da cuenta hasta que es demasiado tarde. La segunda, es que el autor rompe con el cliché del amor romántico típico de la ficción y nos habla de un amor no correspondido pero platónico y sincero. Me ha gustado especialmente porque se sale de lo clásico y de la mentira que es a veces el amor romántico que vemos representado en la ficción para darnos, a cambio, algo más realista. Está tan bien hecho y resulta tan novedoso y original que no puedes evitar admirarlo y aplaudir a Arnold hasta con las orejas por hacerlo así.

Y con esto, llegamos al final de Dead Man in a Ditch, que es muy lógico con los acontecimientos que cuenta y todo se resuelve de manera satisfactoria. Arnold no se deja nada por cerrar aunque sí plantea un nuevo problema para nuestro man for hire y que veremos en One Foot in the Fade, la tercera entrega de Los Archivos de Fetch Phillips.

Dale, Arnold, dale un poquito de felicidad al pobre de Fetch en la tercera parte.
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