I think I have read enough to know when a writer is out of their element, and in one instance that stretches across the whole book, it becomes very apparent that Jay Caspian Kang, in his debut novel The Dead Do Not Improve, doesn’t have what it takes to create a mystery worth solving or a thriller worth following along with, because it features one of the most poorly rendered characters I have come across, which zaps almost all of the good will it establishes with the main character who isn’t anything special, but still creates some goodwill with the reader. With a convoluted story with a little too much quirk and pointless asides that derail everything constantly to a rather intense climax to an ineffective final few pages. This is a real mixed bag of fiction, one that leaves me unimpressed and happy to move on from. It opens up with Philip Kim, a Korean immigrant and failed writer making a living writing for a pseudo-revenge website in San Francisco. He has a few friends and very little connection with the world until a neighbor is killed seemingly by accident which sets off a series of events that lead him toward a reckoning with his violent self, which he become aware of in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting. It also places him in contact with Sid Finch, the surfer cop who was the poorly drawn character I was speaking about at the beginning. None of his scenes, which include confrontations with a porn wizard, his Korean partner or a violent gang that plays a part in the end ring true. His sections take up half the book, and when he was on the page, the book stalled. It faired a little bit better when Philip would talk about his interest in hip-hop or his sexual exploits, but this is a rather corny book, and with it dealing with such a touchy subject matter, I expected it to be a bit more polished, less derivative and way more entertaining.