A Dead Guy Walks Into a Bar ...

Book Five of The Castle Chronicles

Fiction - Supernatural
316 Pages
Reviewed on 03/07/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

A Dead Guy Walks Into a Bar by Michael S. Vassel is a paranormal fantasy adventure that forms the fifth book of The Castle Chronicles series. In this thrilling continuation, we find ourselves following the exploits of Mark when his good friend Shane asks him to remain in the mortal realm. At first, Mark is happy with this arrangement, using his skills covertly to try to help people, but when a series of attacks leads Mark to believe that someone won’t stop until they’ve defeated him, so begins an investigation into who has it in for him and why.

Michael S. Vassel has lots of inventive new ideas to keep this intriguing supernatural series going, and the thriller and mystery elements stand out in this latest installment of Mark Castle’s adventures. One of my favorite features of this story is the dialogue style, which delivers distinct voices to different characters so that I can hear each as clearly as a bell in my head. Mark's interplay with Shane is witty and sharply rendered but also joyful and in stark contrast to the villains and threats he meets along the way, who get the rough edge of his tongue. Overall, I recommend A Dead Guy Walks Into a Bar for fans of the series and for those seeking intelligently delivered paranormal adventures with plenty of complex and interesting plots.

Pikasho Deka

A Dead Guy Walks into A Bar... is the fifth book of The Castle Chronicles by Michael S. Vassel. Recently back to life from the Netherworld and taking over the body of Matthew Keys, Mark uses the name he had during his previous life and settles into becoming an Uber driver in Las Vegas, Nevada. Still haunted by his past and plagued by visions of a mysterious woman, Mark's new life becomes even more chaotic after he is attacked seemingly at random by witches on three separate occasions. Determined to find the person who sent those witches after him, Mark travels across the Atlantic to search for answers. He discovers that the one they call Satan may be responsible for those attacks. But not everything is as it seems, and soon Mark finds himself at the heart of an ancient prophecy.

A supernatural thriller with mystery, intrigue, and plenty of action, A Dead Guy Walks into A Bar... is an absolute belter of a novel from beginning to end. Michael S. Vassel keeps his cards close to his chest and only reveals the picture through bits and pieces until the last few pages. This makes the twists and turns of the plot even more impactful, and as a reader, you find yourself constantly bamboozled by what just happened and wondering what's coming next. Mark is a guy who takes things in his stride, and it makes him someone you want to root for. This is the perfect book for readers who love action-packed supernatural thrillers.

Jamie Michele

It has been said many times that no good deed goes unpunished, and such is the case with Mark Castle in A Dead Guy Walks Into A Bar... This is the fifth book in the supernatural Castle Chronicle series by Michael S. Vassel, preceded by Defiled, A Hitman Walks Into A Bar..., Damned, and Deceived. Mark is a guy with a long history in life and in death, and then back in life again. He's been repatriated to the land of the living and is ready to make the best of it, not just for himself but for other people. He dedicates his time and energy to the pursuit of helpfulness, like saving a mother, her baby, and their cat from an abusive man, and the pursuit of good bars in any realm, like the place where Ki serves up a mean Jameson and ginger ale. In between, Mark keeps getting attacked over and over and over again. The culprit is surprising and even though the power might be super stacked against him, Mark has to end it before it ends him.

I lived in Vegas for thirteen years and it's always interesting when an author takes me back, even though it wasn't really that long ago and the way Mark Castle sees Sin City isn't as dark and twisted as I did. I went to some pretty dicey areas at night and still felt safer than I did in parts of San Francisco and even Seattle when I lived in those cities. Of course, I wasn't dead and being chased by the minions of Satan...or at least I don't think I was. A Dead Guy Walks Into A Bar... isn't easy to jump right into without having a baseline understanding of who Mark Castle is and was, but it can definitely be done if you hang in there for a few chapters. I liked learning about Mark's incantations, the spells he could weave, and spirit guidance, all of which author Michael S. Vassel is able to spin into his own style for the story. I did find some of the references to be extremely dated, like when Mark has an excellent night with a hot flight attendant and equates the luck to that of an actor who is in his 80s, which—ick—but also that most readers under 'a certain age' that aren't nerds like me are not going to know who he is. Still, the writing is clean and the tension lashes through every page, Mark is a character you definitely want to root for, and I look forward to continuing the Castle Chronicles ride for as long as Vassel will have me.