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Ghosts, cemetery dogs, and immortals populate The Messenger, a supernatural thriller from mystery writer Jan Burke, a Houston native best known for her award-winning series starring flesh-and-blood reporter Irene Kelly. The Messenger features Tyler Hawthorne, whose 2008 Los Angeles mailing address belies his 1815 service as a British officer at the Battle of Waterloo. Nearly dead on the battlefield from a wound to the head, he is rescued by the shadowy Lord Varre and an all-too-sentient dog named Shade. Varre makes him an offer: He can become immortal so long as he spends eternity visiting the dying. Two centuries later, in the City of Angels, Hawthorne has settled into his role as a deathbed messenger when Varre reappears to renege on the deal. Gruesome battles ensue (dark basements, evil henchmen, you know the drill). Burke’s precipitous genre shift will likely leave Irene Kelly fans nonplussed, and though The Messenger has its moments—the plot points are especially inventive—it is not the kind of page-turner that wins over a reluctant reader. Simon & Schuster, $25