Book Review: Dead Harvest

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Review: Dead Harvest / Author: Chris Holm / Publisher: Angry Robot Books / Released: March 1st

The urban fantasy genre is littered with a great number of tales of the undead. But the actual dead? Not as common. How about a dead and employed in the services of hell as a baliff for the souls of the damned? Welcome to Dead Harvest, a gritty, hardboiled detective story that skilfully blends creepy supernatural drama with hardboiled hi-jinks.

The novel follows the plight of Sam Thornton, a ghostly collector of souls, who becomes caught up in a power struggle between the forces of Heaven and Hell after he refuses to collect the soul of an innocent. This blameless mortal is, of course, a young girl (or to use the proper parlance for this sort of story, a dame.) Ghostly Sam has to somehow keep her alive until he can get to the bottom of all this, all the while avoiding retribution from angels and demons alike. As one can imagine, all hell breaks loose, frequently and literally. The story runs at a break-neck pace and benefits from a high-speed read. Debut novelist Chris Holm writes in a casual, easy going style, making this a great choice for a long train journey or the like.

Sam is a well defined character; he has an appropriately tragic back story, a film-noir sensibility and a sort of superpower; the ability to possess the bodies of the dead (and the living) that comes with enough catches and flaws that it doesn’t become a get-out clause for every peril he encounters. Holm has set this tale in a world where the forces of divine are literally very close to the world of man, but in terms of understanding it, very far away. This inherent tension in the setting allows for much of the drama, though there is plenty of mundane action as well.

Fans of the Harry Dresden series will enjoy this, and a sequel is apparently on its way. Chris Holm is certainly one to watch.

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0 #1 P.M. Buchan 2012-01-25 21:54
Good work Ed. Welcome aboard!

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