Kos Everburning has died. The city of Alt Coulumb and the surrounding areas have long relied on the old God for power and heat, so his death would have terrible results for everyone. Tara Abernathy has been hired by Kelethras, Albrecht, and Ao to work the case. If they can find the cause of Kos's death, they can possibly bring him back. Though she is helped by one of Kos's Novices and one of the city's Blacksuits, Tara has limited time to unravel the cause behind the God's demise and when they find the Gargoyles have returned, things become complicated.
It's kind of hard to sum this one up in a brief synopsis. First, while the plot is basically a mystery -- what caused Kos's death -- the world and the history of the world are very intricate. You have the God Wars in which Kos's fellow goddess Seril was killed. You have the banishment of the Gargoyles, the creation of the Blacksuits -- the police force and servants of Seril in her new form --, and the Craft. And to try and tie those elements into the synopsis kind of gives away some of the great build of the story itself.
In essence, Three Parts Dead is a bit of a legal thriller wrapped very deeply in a web of super cool fantasy. With such a detailed and different concept behind this one, any wary reader might expect one of two things, the dreaded info-dump, or being completely lost as you wind your way through a story with little to no info. Neither is the case here. Gladstone does a fantastic job including enough bits and pieces along the way that nothing comes across as confusing or overly detailed and slow. Quite a BIG accomplishment with this kind of story.
Whether you choose to read more deeply into Gladstone's story is your choice. Based on Gladstone's comments on the genesis of the story, you can definitely read more into the book and apply current politics and economic issues, should you choose. It's all there but thankfully never overwhelms the tale. I much prefer a quieter symbolic look at the possible downfall of the world than a blatantly bleak beating over the head. Never fear fellow ostriches, in terms of pure entertainment, Three Parts Dead is intriguing and suspenseful. The plotting is smart and the pacing is spot on. What's more, this is the kind of cross genre release that'll appeal to lots of readers across the board.