4 of 5 stars.
Originality, when it rears its head, serves to remind that little is truly new anymore. However, this gem of a tale mashes its genres together until it resembles a Tim Burton-Miyazaki collaboration.
Like a detective noir, the narrator is summoned via thugs by the voluptuously obese head of a crime gang that “hires” him, ie does not kill him, to find something of hers–a cherrystone gem. The two that stole it are dead.
However, the dead aren’t dead-dead–not in this town. Here, they amble in forgetful bliss largely sticking to the neighborhoods of the ever-growing Deader’s Town. Shift to Zombie Urban Fantasy. But the dead talk and are more pleasant than the living representing a new breed of zombie–the magically-caused zombie. A curse holds that as long as the cherrystone remains in town, the dead won’t die. They just ooze and decay if they wander far from their ice chests . . .
The detective’s source for all things Deader’s Town is his 10-years-gone brother, Jas, who has the deaders’ take on the curse and the centuries-long contention with the crime gang.