Category Archives: horror novels
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The Dead Man: Face of Evil (Book One)
by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin
Adventures in Television, Inc. (2011)
The Dead Man blog
The new release is described as “… the first in an exciting new series of original short novels that blends the horror of Stephen King’s THE GUNSLINGER with the action/adventure of Don Pendleton’s MACK BOLAN: THE EXECUTIONER.”
I have not read Pendleton’s work, but I have read King’s Dark Tower series. And while Face of Evil does carry an unrepentant amount of horror within its pages, though not to an imposing degree, the tone of the story is considerably different from The Gunslinger. It’s far more grounded in our world with a protagonist far easier to relate to when reading. Perhaps this is where the Pendleton side of things comes into play.
On a cold February day, a body is discovered frozen under the snow at a ski resort. The body is that of Matthew Cahill, a man declared dead after he’s lost in an avalanche three months prior–but he’s not dead. Somehow, defying medical reasoning, Matthew survived. His ordeals, however, are just beginning as a malevolent force is waiting in the wings, ready to torment him and everyone he holds dear. What’s worse, Matthew has crossed paths with this entity before and lost his wife in the process.
The book carries a blue-collar charm that provides a nice counter-balance to the more fantastical and gruesome elements of the story. Matthew is a sawmill worker, or was rather in the wake of layoffs, and is a precursor to his fateful encounter with the avalanche while on vacation with his new girlfriend, Rachel. Their budding and tragic romance provides a lot of the backbone to this story, as Matthew has to cope with the loss of his wife, the antics of his best friend, the loss of his job, and the subsequent resurrection from the ice and snow.
A lot for one guy to deal with, and it only gets heavier.
The book is a short novel, running probably closer to novella in length. And that’s kind of a kick in the teeth, since the book only offers a small measure of closure in the time the story is told. This is the first book in a series, though. As such, it feels like the season premiere to a very promising show. Since it’s a book, I’ll have to wait a wee bit longer than a week for the next installment, but I’m a patient guy. Actually, the second installment is due to be released in a few weeks: The Dead Man #2: Hell in Heaven, which is again co-authored by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, with the series shaping up to include nine books in total.
I think this will end up being one to keep on eye on throughout the year.
by Scott Kenemore
Skyhorse Publishing (2011)
by John Podgursky
Damnation Books (2010)
Digital ISBN 9781615720132
Print ISBN 9781615720125
Reading John Podgursky’s novel, there were moments when I was reminded a little of Patrick McCabe’s Butcher Boy, mainly because of the first-hand account from the mind of a killer, and then moments when I was reminded of that movie Identity, because the protagonist Ed Caine’s journey through mourning, death, and discovery plays subtle and not-so-subtle jabs at his reality.
Ed Caine describes himself as a One-Percenter in his first person account of life in the wake of his wife’s murder. A One-Percenter is a kind of enforcer for human nature and fate. Selected by almost divine rite it would seem, as Caine has a cataclysmic epiphany one day that sends his life on an irrevocable course of killing. He’s not killing indiscriminately though, as he and those like him target the mutations of humanity–the one percent on the other end of the spectrum, while the rest of us live mundane lives as the remaining ninety-eight percent.
Ed is one strange sonofagun. And as you read his words, you can’t be sure if what he is saying is truth, outright lie, or a psychotic delusion. A review I read for this book prior to reading it compared him to Bill Paxton’s character in Frailty–a distraught and driven man who kills in the name of God after his wife dies. It’s an apt comparison, but this book carries a high creep factor during the episodes of violence and their aftermath. Ed is lost, and the choices he makes don’t even make sense to him at times.
One thing I found lacking with the book though was a sympathetic factor to Ed. At no point in the novel did I like him or really ever root for him, and when I am reading a book I usually need to like the character whose head I’m floating in the whole time. He is a provocative character at times, however, and I didn’t give up on the book.
There is a moment towards the end where the direction the story seems to be heading swings wildly, and Ed winds up in a situation that is a bit anticlimactic given what he has been through. The last few pages do make up for that at least.
It’s a pretty good trek in the mind of a disturbed man, but I have a feeling the book may challenge readers to stick with it despite it being a quick read. I suggest readers who do give it a chance to keep with it through to the end. You might be glad you did.
Vampires, man. Their popularity constantly ebbs and flows, but they never really go away. If there’s a problem it’s that there are countless vampire novels. Literally, is it even possible at this point to count them all? Well, here’s a novel that isn’t the same old song and dance.
Greg Hall’s At the End of Church Street isn’t a supernatural tale, though. This one has its feet firmly planted in the real world. Think The Lost Boys if Keifer Sutherland et al weren’t really vamps, but instead were a motley crew of disaffected youths with a penchant for all things vampiric. Then, place that group of teens in a setting like Orlando, the land of Mickey Mouse.
The Zombie Zoo, as they affectionately call themselves, call an abandoned theater home and spend their time foraging for food and getting their kicks by spooking tourists and pissing off the police. Otherwise, they’re pretty harmless and get by on what little reputation they have. When a runaway, Rebecca-Anne, winds up alone and desperate in Orlando, she finds herself welcomed into their underworld. She gets a new wardrobe, new attitude, and even a new name. Lilith.
But her arrival comes at a time when they are under threat from a killer in the city. Someone is killing the wannabe bloodsuckers, and apparently going about it as if they really were vampires. The novel is not without a number of suspects, either. The question is whether they can survive long enough to find out who is responsible before they’re all killed, or the police crack down on them as tourists seem to become targets as well and they become a reviled target on two fronts.
The cast of characters is varied and some are genuinely likable. Wolfy was a particular favorite of mine, a boy among the older kids who gets by as a would-be werewolf, replete with fake claws and mask which he dons during theatrical fits as if summoning Lon Chaney. Rebecca/Lilith was a bit harder to like, with her constant insecurity and rather wild swings in temperament when in the company of her love interest, Adam the leader of the pack. But, despite some jumpy switches in point of view, the cast of characters are rather easy to go along with and react in genuine ways to the ordeals thrown at them.
It’s not even close to your conventional teen vampire romp. This one approaches some subject matter than I doubt many of the more popular books would be bothered to tread. It’s not a perfect book, but it’s an impressive debut novel and a commendable switch in tone from Greg Hall’s jovial personality. The man can make you laugh, but it looks like he can also dish out the horror too.