Three Parts Dead read-along part 3 (final)

Three Parts DeadAnd so we come to the final part of the Three Parts Dead read-along. It’s been a relatively short one, compared with the longer books and more intensive discussions I’ve had with previous readalongs, but I’m so glad that I finally got started with this series. Clearly, I’ve been missing out.

Our host for this part is Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow, so be sure to head over to her blog for links to everyone else’s.

SPOILERS for the whole book, of course.


So we finally got all the facts behind whodunit – and how, and why… What did you think of the epic(sized) reveal scene? 

Pretty awesome for the most part! Things got really exciting from the moment Cat called in the Blacksuits to take down Tara and the Stonemen; I could just imagine the doom-laden thumps of them landing on the building before they broke in. Of course the fight that followed was rather one-sided, but eventually Tara steps up and starts saving the day with her incredible lawyering 🙂

I was wondering what the hell was up with that flying Cardinal. Admittedly, I thought that was a bit ridiculous until he burst in and starting battling Denovo. No surprise to find out that Denovo was behind the whole thing, although I feel a bit daft for not guessing at the possibility of stealing a god’s power to become a god. We’ve been told from the beginning that soulstuff gets passed around on a daily basis and that gods just have a lot more of it, with more skill at manipulating it. The God Wars involved humans wresting power from the gods, and of course Denovo has his own godlike scheme of attaining power by stealing it from his underlings. How did I not see this coming?

I also made a couple of bad guesses as to how things would turn out. For a little while, it looked to me like Tara was going to be transformed into Seril and Abelard would become Kos. There was never any time for a romance to develop between them, but it had seemed ike a possibility, so it seemed fitting that they would turn into this divine power couple. In retrospect though, that would have been a terrible ending – the book addresses issues of consent and using other people for your own gain (more on that later), and if Tara and Abelard became gods it meant they would lose at least a part of themselves.

Anyway, good ending. I absolutely loved the way everybody turns to attack Denovo.

My only criticism is that it’s a tad clunky in the way mystery novels often are – the villain and the investigator step up to explain the entire plot to us. It’s an explanation I badly wanted and needed, but it means there’s rather a lot of exposition in this scene

Oh, and David was a boring plot device.


Surprise! We found Kos. You’ll never believe where he was… Or did you?

Nope, didn’t see that coming at all! Which I guess is one of the reasons it was such a good hiding spot, but I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. What if Abelard had dropped his cigarette and was forced to light a new one (instead of passing Kos’s flame on by chain smoking)? He’s possibly the most addicted smoker I’ve ever come across, but there were several occasions in the book where I was sceptical about the fact that he still had his cigarette. I guess he hung onto it because of Kos’s influence?


Elayne Kevarian proved to be even more devious than we suspected. What do you think of this Craftswoman now that the dust is settling? Sympathy for Denovo, or victorious fist-pump?

Fist-pump, definitely a fist-pump. And a high-five. With a “Whoop!” for good measure. That guy was an ASSHOLE. I was disappointed by the possibility that Denovo would just rot in jail, and thoroughly pleased when Ms Kevarian killed him instead. Initially I was hoping Tara would be the one to take him down, but what Denovo did to Kevarian was much worse.

And I still like Elayne. I never thought that she was squeaky-clean. Same goes for Tara. I mean, they are lawyers.


I did a little checking and the second book in this series seems to feature a whole new cast, though it’s still set in the same world. Do you think this one wrapped things up for Tara, Abelard and company well enough, or are you wishing for more? For that matter, will you read on? 

I’d love to read about these characters again, but I’m satisfied with the way things were resolved. However, I would have liked to know a bit more about Abelard and Cat’s history.

And yes, I’d keep reading. I liked Gladstone’s characters, especially his female characters. He’s also got a really fascinating magical system here, and some wonderful worldbuilding. It’s clear that this world isn’t monolithic either – it’s much more realistic in that different places have developed in their own ways, with their own belief systems and politics. I’d love to see what else he’s come up with.

There were a few things that bugged me – minor issues with the writing that I would have liked to tweak, and details or conflicts that I wanted Gladstone to develop a little further. However, none of this was bad enough to really bother me, and it’s a fantastic debut.


Consent and Power

I liked the way the book raised issues of consent and power. There are multiple examples – Cat’s connection to Justice; Tara’s connection to Ms Kevarian; Ms Kevarian’s manipulation of Abelard; Tara’s manipulation of Shale and Cat; Denovo’s connection to his students; Denovo’s use of the Cardinal and Shale; and Denovo’s first experiment with Ms Kevarian, using their sexual relationship to gain power from her devotion. The whole plot is based on the giving and taking of power from others, often without their consent or beyond their control.

One of my favourite scenes was when Raz woke up to find Cat feeding him and criticised her for not getting his consent. What does she know about his feeding preferences? Maybe it’s been years since he drank a human’s blood and now she’s essentially forced it on him. Granted, Cat’s not in total control of herself in this scene, but I don’t think the issue of consent would occur to her even if she had been. She’s operating on the assumption that he’s a vampire, therefore he must want her blood. I think it’s also important to consider that this is not simply about food. In Cat’s first scene, her vampire addiction is strongly associated with sex and drugs, suggesting that giving her blood to Raz is akin to sexual assault or forcing him to take drugs. And lets not forget that she’s doing all of this purely for her own pleasure.

The issue becomes even more tangled when we take into account the fact that Cat only went to Raz because Tara manipulated her. How culpable is Tara? And what if it had been a more serious issue, such as actual sexual assault? I’m also reminded of the scene when Ms Kevarian pulled Tara into a dream without her consent; when Tara questioned it, Ms Kevarian replies bluntly, “You are my employee and my apprentice, Ms. Abernathy. You’ll find there is little I cannot do to you, your notions of the possible notwithstanding.” Tara lets the issue drop, but I was actually hoping she’d wrestle with it a bit more, because WHAT THE HELL?

I think it’s apt, then, that at the end Tara decides that her own actions during the case were too unethical for her to continue working for Kelethras, Albrecht, and Ao. Although I really wanted her to be a kick-ass lawyer for a powerful firm, I admired the way she’d reflected on her actions and chose different path despite the fact that she enjoyed the work. I wouldn’t say that she’s as bad as Denovo, but in her field of work, manipulation does pose quite an ethical conundrum, and I think Tara is wise to think about it carefully before working for the firm full time.


15 thoughts on “Three Parts Dead read-along part 3 (final)

  1. Pingback: Readalong: Three Parts Dead - Final Week! - Over The Effing Rainbow

  2. So many good points here! I’d taken note of the consent issue(s) but was having trouble getting my thoughts on it in order – this has been typical of me lately. Real Life is a pain. But I am applauding your take on it! I did like how Tara handled her next move in the end, and this is another reason I wouldn’t mind returning to these characters, but I’m still more fascinated with the notion of moving on in the next book.

    • Thanks! Ugh, yeah, I know what you mean about life getting in the way. I’ve cut down on my blogging and didn’t give this readalong as much attention as I would have like to.

      I’m thinking that in later books there could always be a reference to some of these characters to let us know how they’re doing. Sounds like Elayne at least will be travelling all over.

  3. So many good points indeed! Like Lise, I’d taken note of the consent issues, but it’s only been the issue with Raz and Cat that I really managed to find any words for. Thank you for that! ❤

    (And I'm going to be over here. Pretending that David does not exist. Which is mean of me, but there you go.)

    • Thank you!

      Oh well, pretending David doesn’t exist doesn’t sound too hard. In a few months time I will probably have forgotten that he was in the novel at all.

      • It took me… less than a week. I only remembered because you mentioned him. David is definitely the weakest part, but it’s a tough thing to address. Give him more room and you ruin the mystery. Give him less and… he just comes out of nowhere. Maybe a suggestion that he existed (and was missing) to set up his appearance? Perhaps I read over that in the first week and that’s why his appearance feels so abrupt and off to me?

        • Cabot does mention early on that his son went to help “rebuild the world” (certain parts were wrecked by the God Wars) and recently “returned on his own to propose a complex business deal, lucrative and good-hearted but of questionable legality” (p.22. Yay for Kindle’s search function or I would never have found that). However, it seems like the point of this is to do a bit of worldbuilding and say something about Cabot’s character rather than David’s. The only hint that David is of any importance is the mention of the deal and the fact that he has a name, and is not just “Cabot’s son”.

          When he appeared, I remembered him, but it was still pretty clumsy. He’s so obviously just a plot device. Does anyone even mention questioning him for clues about his father’s murder? If I were editing or beta-reading this, I would have suggested writing David out of the story completely. Maybe split his function between Cabot and Shale, perhaps even writing a relationship between them, and giving Shale a bit more to do at the end.

          • Mmmm… I think he could stay in the beginning part of the book when he’s not even a tertiary character and just a brief world-building mention. I think it’s really the way he’s introduced in this last part that’s the big issue and, short of providing a bit of additional information and confirmation, he doesn’t really seem to do much. 😦

  4. I’ve read all of Max’s books and each one is a different set of characters. He does make passing mention occasionally to characters and settings from previous books, but for the most part you will get a completely new story. And that’s a GREAT thing!

    • I’m definitely sold on his writing! Glad to know he mentions things from previous books though – it’s like getting to hear what old friends are up to 🙂

  5. This is a great write up – I feel similar to Lisa above – I was on the last minute with my write up and so missed so many points out.
    The part with the flying cardinal – yeah, I had to go back and reread that particular scene, I was like ‘did he just fly out the window’?
    I would definitely continue with the next in series – I quite like that he’s wrapped up all the characters and I think it would be interesting to see what he comes up with next. This author can certainly write good characters. I suppose Denovo was the only one who felt a bit like a paper cut out type of villain but, that being said, Gladstone really surprised me with that ending because I was expecting that he would be used as the baddie again.
    Lynn 😀

    • Thanks! Although I also feel like I missed on out quite a lot. There was so much info in this story!
      In this case I’m quite happy to forgive Gladstone for flat characters like Denovo and David, because they’re far outweighed by the great characters 🙂

  6. I hadn’t contemplated Abelard and Tara becoming Kos and Seril – though that would have been a big surprise to them (and us readers). I totally forgot about David until you mentioned him, so that definitely backs up your statement that he was boring. Ha!

    I can see Abelard running for his life, robes flapping revealing tight leather pants, all the while a cigarette is firmly clamped between his lips.

    I like your comments on consent and power. I made some tiny comment about Cat & Raz over on my blog, but you did a much better job of showing the theme throughout the entire novel. Kevarian is kickass but also scary because she could and does manipulate Tara. Tara in turn is a bit scary because she can and does manipulate Cat. Justice is really scary and not particularly likable because she was built to use people, so she doesn’t even question it.

    • I think the possibility of Tara and Abelard undergoing some kind of apotheosis occurred to me because of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. A very different book, but with a few key similarities.

      Lol, that’s actually the sort of thing that made me wonder how he could possibly still have his cigarette! Admittedly, though, I could count the number of times I’ve smoked on one hand, so I’m no authority on what’s realistic here 🙂

      Thank you! One thing I didn’t get around to mentioning though, is that I can see the appeal of being a Blacksuit. You probably don’t need any special skills, and ou don’t really need to “do” anything either. You just suit up, Justice moves your body around for a few hours, then you regain control. The cause is noble and you probably get some measure of prestige, so it sounds like a good idea, for some. Easier than dragging yourself out of bed, going to an office and having to deal with everything yourself.

  7. My favorite parts were definitely the Kos revelation and Denovo’s end. For the Kos thing, I’m tempted now to go back and track Abelard’s smoking, just to make sure there were no gaps…because that detail-work seems like something the writer might have done, and I like it when you can follow the thread in a second read.

    If I wasn’t neck-deep in C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner stuff, I’d read Two Serpents Rise now, but Cherryh has been keeping me up at nights and I don’t want to stop.

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