I think this might be the very first case of a second book being better than first. As Lie the Dead reads like the second half to a much larger story. A story that is so well thought out, I'm still reeling from the plot twists and shocking reveals.
Our story starts exactly where we left it. Evy and Wyatt are quickly swept up in a new battle against "their kind" and the surviving Owlkin, who were slaughtered thanks to protecting Evy when she was a wanted criminal. Evy can't help herself from feeling responsible for their near extinction and vows to protect the remaining few. But the owlkins aren't merely satisfied with her protection, they're seeking revenge in the form of Rufus' head on a platter. Of course Evy can't let Rufus be held accountable for something she already feels guilty for, so she vows to uncover the real masterminds behind the Triads' orders; the people really making the decisions of who dies and who lives.
Even though this book feels like the second half of a previous story Meding approaches As Lie the Dead with a fresh set of eyes, focusing on the inner workings of The Triads. Self-proclaimed enforcers of the "Dregs", The Triads have decided what's right and what's wrong for the past 10 years. Evy really opens up and questions everything she's thought was un-questionable her past 4 years. There was a whole sub-story taking place that I found really thought provoking. Why do the Triads get to decide punishment for the Dregs? Just like some might argue why does one ruling government get to raise arms against another just because they disagree or don't understand a culture or means of policing. Now, this book is not uber political and this is only a part of the bigger picture, but I really enjoyed the silent messages of un-just nestled within Meding's pages.
Turning Evy's black & white world into shades of grey is the introduction of Phin. Phin is a shapeshifter Clan member who's eager for retribution for the needless slaughter of the Owlkin. I thought he was such an interesting side-kick for her. All of her training pops up and screams for her not to trust a Dreg but Phin's actions continued to open her up to the possibility that Dregs might be just as "human" as humans. Bring in George Clooney or Matt Damon and you've got your next espionage/spy flick complete with rugged good looks and sincere emotions.
The other part of the book that I just loved is Wyatt's backstory. Ask and you shall receive. His story fits flawlessly into the bigger picture and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor a couple times throughout his monologues. I can't wait for more more more.
Again, it's hard to go much further into detail without accidentally slipping a detail or two out, so I wont.
Bottom Line: One of best books I've read in 2010.