Chris F. Holm
Angry Robot Books
Sam is a collector. A collector of souls! You see, Sam’s wife had contracted a strain of TB and in a moment of desperation, Sam accepted a sketchy employment opportunity from a gentleman named Dumas. While Dumas promised a complete recovery on the part of Sam’s wife, he remained closed mouth on the true nature of his employment. Unfortunately for many, deals of this nature are extremely short sighted and if Sam possessed the foresight to know what his future would entail, he may have taken a little more time to come to his decision.
Dead Harvest is what you get when you fill a casserole dish with equal parts detective noir, supernatural sci-fi, cover it with some snappy dialogue, pop it in the oven and broil the shit out of it. What you get is a recipe that will not only satisfy your palate but leave you hungry for more.
I feel like Chris Holm had some excellent ideas here and you can tell he was influenced by some similar work that came before him (Hellblazer comics, Supernatural TV series, ). While I enjoyed the first installment in what looks to be a lengthy series, I’m more so excited of what’s to potentially come. I’d like to think Holm can take what he’s established here and build upon it, giving us a more complete picture of this world he’s created. It’s not too often that I walk away from a debut novel with such anticipation for future books.
While I more or less enjoyed this, it did occasionally dip into some cliche plot devices that took away a little of what made the tale unique. I didn't much care for the back story in how he was collected, I feel like Holm could have put a much more compelling spin on it. Luckily, the mythos that the author put in place regarding Sam’s job kept things interesting as the story moved forward.
I’m really digging Angry Robot so far. This is the second book I've devoured that they've published and if this is par for the course for what they’re releasing, I may have stumbled upon a cornucopia of entertainment. They certainly have some smart people over there – stay golden, pony boy.
*Oh, and there’s a nod to Lawrence Block.
A few rooms in, a uniformed cop sat slouched beside an open door, his nose buried in a Scudder novel.
|The Wrong Goodbye|
Chris F. Holm
Angry Robot Books
Following Dead Harvest, what do you give the guy who nearly brought upon the apocalypse? Why, a second chance of course!
Sam Thornton is tasked with the collection of a soul belonging to a feared drug lord. Following a meeting with an old friend and fellow collector, the soul Sam had acquired goes missing; replaced with that of another. The search for his stolen property takes Sam in unexpected directions as well as providing unwanted attention from those he’d like to avoid. As Sam’s journey continues, the window for retrieving the soul starts to close and his opportunity to stop yet another potential apocalyptic event becomes less and less likely.
If you read my review, you’d already be aware of how much I enjoyed Dead Harvest. When I was told the sequel – The Wrong Goodbye – was just as good, if not better, you couldn't hold me back from picking it up.
With The Wrong Goodbye, I feel like the series gained a lot of ground in terms of Sam’s development. Sam laments about being stuck in his role as a collector but doesn't whine and mope about it. He knows that he’ll always have Lillith down his neck and with the added pressure of those who granted him a reprieve following his actions in book one, he knows he can’t afford to make a mistake. Despite these factors that he must always be mindful of, you never feel like he loses any of what makes him a great character. He’s still a smart-ass and he still lets his darker, more comedic side come out to play. In fact, there’s this:
“He slammed me into the rock wall behind me. My head hit so hard I thought I’d puke. Then I did puke, so, you know, yay for being right.”
As a Collector, the path laid out before him is only wide enough for one person. People may drift in and out of his life but given the nature of his employment, they’re never around for long. Given his circumstances, you could grab the low hanging fruit and fill Sam’s attitude with gloom and doom but it’s really important to make him an interesting and entertaining character by mixing it up a bit.
There’s a scene where Sam and his sidekick, Gio, are traveling in a stolen vehicle. Gio brings up the past and asks Sam about his wife. Sam’s response, tightening his grip around the steering wheel and thinking twice about dragging his history out, reinforces why despite his witty remarks and snappy dialogue, at his core he’ll always be a tragic figure. Thornton has the rest of eternity to wonder if the choice he made was the right one; something that will most likely never be easier for him to deal with.
Overall, I feel like this series is only getting stronger. The third book is due out this summer and again, has a fantastic cover. One thing I believe I didn't speak about in my review for Dead Harvest was it’s excellent cover art. The designs provided by Amazing 15 continues a trend of vintage-style artwork.
Check out my interview with Chris over @ Every Read Thing.