Friday, April 5, 2013

Sam Thornton collects souls and he may have just kick-started the Apocalypse

Dead Harvest
Chris F. Holm
Angry Robot, 2012
Available Now

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reviewer: Trudi

This was a blast -- a seamless mash-up of pulpy noir goodness set in a gritty urban landscape featuring soul Collectors and very bad ass mofo angels and demons. Who would I recommend this book to? Fans of the movie The Prophecy most definitely. And to a lesser extent that movie Fallen starring Denzel Washinton and Elias Koteas (I love Elias Koteas).

And if you've ever been a fan of Supernatural's angel-demon-apocalypse epic story arc then this is most definitely the book for you. Even though Dead Harvest is laced with all the delicious tropes of detective noir fiction, I would find it hard to believe that the author hasn't also been influenced by the Winchester Family Business. The references to 'vessels' and 'meat-suits' and fallen angels, and 'free will' and souls and a war on earth between the hosts of heaven and the legions of hell... well, I know the writers of Supernatural didn't invent this mythology, but they've certainly put their own stamp on it in a way that shines through the pages of this book with the brightness of a soul ripped from its mortal host.

Speaking of which -- even the way the souls are harvested. I could not help but be reminded of this:

Not that you have to be a Supernatural fangirl like myself to enjoy this book. Not in the least. Soul collector Sam Thornton is a great character -- and while I had an easy time picturing him as Dean Winchester -- he's also cut from the mold of classic hardboiled detectives. He's an anti-hero with a past. He's stopped consciously looking for redemption but somewhere deep inside he still hopes for it. Even though his line of work whittles away his humanity one job at a time, Sam still manages to hold on to some of who he used to be. He smokes, he drinks, he curses. He's not impervious to fear, or to making stupid mistakes. Or to still long to "do the right thing."

Never in his wildest dreams though, would he have imagined himself smack dab in an otherworldly conspiracy between angels and demons to kick-start a war on earth to bring on the apocalypse.
You think either side wants a war? When last it happened one-third our number fell -- and all because a son of fire refused to kneel before a son of clay. You couldn't begin to understand the world of shit that would rain down upon us...
While this book is largely a plot-driven, action piece, it also contains some great snappy dialogue that had me snickering a few times:
Just because you're thinking about stabbing somebody doesn't mean you have to be a dick about it.

"Is he - I mean, do you have to go..." she stammered. "Is he in hell?"
I laughed. "Near enough - he's in Staten Island."
The best part about Dead Harvest? It's a series and the sequel The Wrong Goodbye just became available.

This is an Angry Robot book. If you've never heard of these guys, check them out. They are publishing some wickedly fine shit. I've become so enamored of their catalogue that I've given them their very own Goodreads shelf. High praise indeed.

This review also appears on Goodreads.


  1. Replies
    1. Indeed it is! His introduction into the show has got to be one of the best for any character in the history of television.