The Dead Gentleman is a wild ride between parallel New York City timestreams—1901 and today. Eleven-year-old Tommy Learner is a street orphan and an unlikely protege to the Explorers, a secret group dedicated to exploring portals—the hidden doorways to other worlds. But while investigating an attercop (man-eating spider) in the basement of an old hotel, Tommy is betrayed—and trapped. And it's then that his world collides with that of modern-day Jezebel Lemon, who, until the day she decides to explore her building's basement, had no bigger worries than homework and boys. Now, Jezebel and Tommy must thwart the Dead Gentleman, a legendary villain whose last unconquered world is our own planet Earth, a realm where the dead stay dead. Until now. Can two kids put an end to this ancient evil and his legions of Gravewalkers?
About the Author
MATTHEW CODY is the author of Will in Scarlet, Powerless, Super, and the upcoming Villainous. Originally from the midwest, he now lives in New York City with his wife and young son. Besides novels, Matt has written for both DC Comics and Marvel, and is a regular moderator at the Thalia Book Club camp at Symphony Space.
Read an Excerpt
New York City, Today
At first glance, the Percy Luxury was a sleek apartment building full of marble floors and shining brass handles. A neatly dressed doorman always waited outside to wave down taxis and tip his hat at passersby, and the smiling elevator man with too-white teeth never had to be reminded which floor was yours. But the marble and the brass were not the originals, and neither were the doorman and the elevator man for that matterthey were all part of a new renovation aimed at transforming the place into a stylish home for the very rich and the very snotty. “New” Percy had been “gentrified”a word that, in Jezebel’s vernacular, meant it was now a good place to own a poodle or some other small, yappy dog that you could stuff into your purse.
Jezebel’s Percy was full of peepholes and cracked-open doors. No one said much of anything, she noticed, and each neighbor made a point of seeming totally uninterested as they passed her in the hallshead down, busy examining the mail, no time for a “hello” or “good morning” or even “hiya” when you’re staring at your watch. But as soon as they made it inside their apartments, you could hear the click-clack of peephole shutters sliding and the creak of doors inching open. Walking down the hallway meant you were being watched, and if you were being watched, then it only made sense that you were being talked about.
According to Jez’s dad it had been a hotel long ago. Its status as an Upper West Side landmark was the only thing that saved it from being torn down when the coffee shops and pay-by-the-hour playrooms started moving into the neighborhood. But the renovations had also exposed part of the real Percysections of the old building that remained untouched by double-glazed windows and new crown molding. Underneath the new clothing was a set of very old bones.
On this particular Saturday it was not yet noon, though you wouldn’t have known it to look at the sky outside. A thick pallet of black clouds lay over the city like a winter blanket. Sidewalk treesskinny little saplings planted as part of the gentrificationswayed then snapped in the gusting winds. Jezebel watched out her bedroom window as the storm pummeled the city and churned the waters of the Hudson River beyond. She imagined the tall trees in Riverside Park whipping their branches against the blowing rain, cutting through the sheets of water. The park trees were old and strong, and they would do better in this gale than those poor saplings below.
Jezebel’s bedroom window rattled as a thunderclap chased a lightning flash through the sky. That one had seemed too close. She backed away from the window and plopped down heavily onto her bed. Even an epic thunderstorm like this could hold her attention for only so long. She rolled around, sat up and grabbed one of her dad’s books that she had started at least ten times. She read for a few minutes before giving up at the same spot she always gave up at, and then laid back down and stared at the unfinished mural her father had started on her bedroom wall. It was a scene from an enchanted forest full of lush green trees, toadstools and fairies. She stared at the open white space he’d taped off that was just begging for a unicorn.
Her dad had to be stopped.
Of course, he meant wellparents usually do. These little gestures reassured him that he was an involved and present father. Jezebel’s mom liked to say that fatherhood had hit him like a knockout punch and he’d been reeling ever since. But he’d done what was expected of him, and then some. He’d made sacrificestrading a painter’s career for a job in advertising, for one thing, which was why Jezebel let him have his way with the enchanted-forest mural.
Parents. Her mother feared for hershe worried about the “emotional fallout” left from the divorce. Her father overcompensated by filling their weekends with quality time, but she had survived so far without any deep mental scars, so he must’ve done something right. She thought that he should accept some culpability for the twelve-year-old baby fat that was turning out not to be baby fat at all, and for her nearsightedness and tendency to freckle. In fact, she had a whole list of genetic complaints, but the actual child-rearing part he’d pulled off quite well. She’d told him that once, in those very words, and he’d kind of looked grim and defeated about it. Maybe he just didn’t know how to take a compliment.
Jezebel tried once more to go online, but the storm had been messing with the Internet all morning and she waited five minutes just for her profile page to load. Cell phone reception was spotty as well. It was like living in the Stone Age. After the connection timed out twice, she gave up and grabbed her shoes instead.
Time to check out the basement.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really love it. I have the urge to read it at least a thousand times more. I can't even contain my love for this fantastic book A+++++++++++++++++++