Book Review- The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

September 4, 2020 2 comments

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a book review, and I’m picking a daunting one for my first in several months, Stephen Graham Jones’, The Only Good Indians Not because the novel, the first one I’ve read by this author, is difficult or bad. Quite the contrary; it was an incredible slow burn horror novel that drew me deeper and deeper into the narrative with each subsequent chapter and character I met. No, what makes reviewing The Only Good Indians so challenging is there’s only so much I can say without spoiling things. I’m going to try though.

The Only Good Indians is the story of four American Indian men haunted metaphorically (and perhaps literally) by a hunting trip gone wrong they took 10 years ago. As the story unfolded I started to recognize some of the horror sub-genre superstructure that served as the foundation for Jones’ tale. There’s elements of the classic “past mistake coming back to haunt people” slasher tale. There’s also a great ghost story vibe to parts as well. It was cool to recognize those inspirations, but if you think you know what the author is going to do with them you don’t. Jones uses those ideas as a foundation to build some insane, disturbing, and totally organic twists and turns.

The way the horror is worked into the protagonists’ everyday lives is also incredibly effective too. The Only Good Indians is unflinching in its look at how brutal and soul crushingly mundane life can be for its protagonists. At times, those depictions reminded of Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s excellent American Indian crime comic Scalped. They’re so effective that when the horror elements come in they’re amplified to an explosive degree.

The Only Good Indians also features some fascinating and flawed characters. Some you like in spite of their flaws, and some you want to hate, but Jones doesn’t let you because he offers details that makes you understand and empathize with them. My favorite character though, I rooted for from the moment we met her. She’s a teenage girl named Denorah who is an incredibly gifted basketball player.

We get to see Denorah’s talents and learn about how she developed them in one of my favorite sequences in The Only Good Indians. It’s clear that Jones is a fan of basketball too. Because he makes that part incredibly exciting and his love for the game translates to the page.

The basketball scene isn’t the only thrilling sequence in the book either. The entire last part is breathtaking. It will have you cheering a character on and pulling for them to endure and survive the nightmare they’ve found themselves in. That all builds towards an incredibly powerful ending.

Categories: Book Review

Book Review Soul Wars By Josh Reynolds

Soul WarsThe Warhammer 40,000 novels published by Black Library are what brought me into the actual game. So when I picked my armies and started building and painting miniatures I was already well versed in 40K lore. I started playing Warhammer: Age of Sigmar (40K’s sister miniature game of fantasy battles) though without any real knowledge of the lore or having read any novels. As a horror and heavy metal fan I thought the ghostly Nighthaunt army was really cool looking, and one year a very generous friend got me a starter set of Nighthaunt models. From there I got the Nighthaunt Battletome and Age of Sigmar rule book.

I really liked the lore I read there especially about the Nighhaunts and the other legions of the death god Nagash. So, I started to look around at some of the Black Library Age of Sigmar novels. Initially I couldn’t find any about my army that grabbed my interest. Then I stumbled upon Soul Wars by Josh Reynolds. I became intrigued and decided it would be my first Age of Sigmar novel. I just finished it and I’m so glad I did. It was a story that was both epic and intimate. It featured warring gods, their servants, the people caught in the crossfire, vast interdimensional realms, and one very important city.

One of the most fascinating things for me about the Age of Sigmar set up is the backdrop of the multiple realms. It’s like Dungeons and Dragons if it was set against a backdrop like the nine realms of Asgard. In Soul Wars Reynolds did an amazing job bringing those realms to life. We got little glimpses of several realms, a sizable glance at the god Sigmar’s heavenly realm, and a major exploration of Shyish, the land of the dead and purview of Nagash.

I especially loved the scenes in the two contrasting Shyish city’s, Nagash’s capital Nagashizzar and Sigmar’s foothold metropolis in the land of the dead, Glymmsforge. The way life and unlife was compared and contrasted in the two cities was really cool. Half the fun of reading 40K novels is the rich and vibrant settings authors create and bring to life. If Soul Wars is any indication I’m going to have a lot of fun visiting the various realms in Age of Sigmar novels too.

Soul Wars is jam packed with fascinating characters too. As a Nighthaunt player I joshua-reynoldsappreciated a chance to see some of my models brought to life as characters. They felt fun, fascinating, and very true to form. It was also interesting to meet Nagash and some of his servants. I especially loved the scheming lich known as Arkhan.

The most fascinating and surprising characters for me though were the Nighthaunt’s enemies in the book, Sigmar’s Stormcast Eternals. Before reading Soul Wars I had written them off. They struck me as fantasy Space Marines. In a way they are that, but as Reynolds shows in Soul Wars they’re so much more too. They’re complex and kind and compassionate in way Space Marines are often not (the exception being my favorite Loyalist chapter, the Salamanders). They’re also a diverse lot whose ranks include both men and women. I liked that a lot. My favorite Stormcast ended up being a veteran and scholarly warrior mage named Balthas and a woman assigned to the streets and tombs of Glymmsforge named Calys Eltain. There’s another Stormcast character I really enjoyed reading about, but I can’t talk at all about them because of spoilers. Let’s just say that character goes on an incredible journey over the course of the book.

There’s also some great human characters like a brave and daring girl named Elya. Also there are cats! Yes, cats play a pretty fun and interesting role in Soul Wars

Reynolds is also great with epic action. A large part of the story is about an army of ghosts and zombies laying siege to a medieval city. So take Game of Thrones Battle of Winterfell and transport it into Gondor from Lord of the Rings That’s what the battles in Soul Wars felt like to me. They were that cool.

So, Soul Wars was a very welcome initial venture into the world of Age of Sigmar novels. I look forward to reading more and more books by Josh Reynolds as well.

Categories: Book Review

Book Review- Plague War by Guy Haley

Plague WarThe world of Warhammer 40,000 is the darkest of dystopias. It’s a galaxy plagued by constant warfare, supernatural horror, and murderous alien entities. So, it’s a scary and fascinating place to read about, but it’s also very inspiring. Because even in the “grim, darkness of the far future” heroes still exist. They’re men and women who when all hope seems lost continue to rage against the dying of the light. Part of the reason I read 40k/Black Library fiction is it gives me a chance to be both thrilled and roused at the exploits of the heroes of the 41st millennium. So, given the weird and scary times we’re living in I was looking for an escapist novel that took my mind off things, excited me, and lifted my spirits. Plague War, the second entry in Guy Haley’s Dark Imperium trilogy of 40K novels, did all three of those things and then some.

Part of the reason why I loved Plague War was Haley continues to build upon the great characterization he established in the previous book, Dark Imperium, of the Ultramarines resurrected Primarch, Roboute Guilliman. Last book we saw that while he may be viewed as godlike by the Imperium that he now controls Gulliman still has a very human personality. He’s also a man out of time struggling to do right by an Imperium that has changed so much in the many thousands of years he was gone.

We get more of that in Plague War We see that Guilliman is the perfect hero for the dark time he was reborn into. We see his aptitude for leadership and tactics, and we see that he’s a reasonable man who wants to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Those scenes are exciting, but some of the best parts of Plague War are the times where get to see Guilliman be human. We get to see him crack a joke. We also get to see him wrestle with his flaws. He may have a brilliant tactical mind, but there’s an incredibly powerful scene in Plague War where he loses his cool. The scene after that, where we see him wrestle with happened and how he tries to come to grips with his emotions, is also interesting and should take the character to some fascinating places.

Plague War is an epic war tale that unfolds on many different fronts. So, as it progresses Guy Haleyyou get many different points of view, all of them fascinating. I especially enjoyed the larger questions of faith that arise in the chapters that featured the (returning) Militant Apostolic Mathieu and some of the other religious characters that appeared.

The other astounding elements of Plague War were the front line action and disturbing body horror. There are scenes of interstellar combat, clashes between gigantic mechanical Titans, and two truly epic end battle action set pieces. Much of these clashes are with the decaying forces of the monstrous Death Guard, and Haley’s prose expertly captures the bloated, gross, but strangely happy nature of the Chaos Space Marine Legion and its demonic brethren.

So, Plague War had it all; epic, over the top action; creepy horror; fantastic characters; and a huge scope and scale. As good as the first book was in this trilogy, Plague War is even better. So, I can not wait to see where Haley takes things in the final Dark Imperium book.

Book Review- The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole

February 29, 2020 Leave a comment

Queen of CrowsFantasy can be an incredibly dense genre full of minutiae about geography, magic, cultures, the world, and its history. Those kinds of stories can be difficult to wade into, especially since they tend to be on the long side. And sometimes when you take the plunge and go all in, you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a book that’s all style and no substance. That happened to me a few times with fantasy books. I haven’t reviewed those because I tend not to finish them or I just don’t feel it’s worth the time writing a largely negative review for this blog.

For me, the best types of fantasy stories are made up of the same ingredients of any story; fascinating, flawed, and in some cases fun characters. Give me an intriguing protagonist to spend time with and while you do that you can unfold the history and rules for your fantasy world. I find that the most enjoyable fantasy tales are the ones that do that, but they start small and then spread outwards.

Myke Cole did that with The Armored Saint, the debut novel in his “Sacred Throne” trilogy. It was about a seemingly normal adolescent girl, Heloise Factor, forced into an extraordinary situation; protecting her village from both a corrupt religious order and unearthly forces. So it was a book about a teenager, the small community she grew up in, and the way the outside world threatened everyone in it. It was also about a girl in a steam punk style battle suit punching out monsters both metaphorical and fantastical. So it had some fun elements to compliment the poignant and powerful ones. I loved it, and I’m overjoyed to report that The Queen of Crows, Cole’s second novel in “The Sacred Throne” series, is even better.

One of the main reasons The Queen of Crows is so enjoyable is the continued evolution of myke coleHeloise Factor. I love her because she’s a person with a strong moral compass trying to stay true to what she believes in while thrust into an incredibly difficult situation. She also wrestles with feelings about who she is, and whether or not she has any business doing what she’s doing. In The Queen of Crows we see her starting to come to terms with the weight that’s been thrust on her, and we see her belief in herself and what she’s doing tested many, many times. How that impacts her is spoilers and I don’t do those in my reviews.

The Queen of Crows also features many of the great characters from the previous novels like Heloise’s parents and Barnard, the Tinker who built her battle suit. For me, though the highlight was all the new characters we got to meet. I particularly loved the members of a matriarchal, peripatetic culture that Cole introduces in the book. Their way of life has some really fun and cool facets like acrobatic warriors known as “knife dancers” and their own brand of powerful magic. My favorites from those include Mother (leader) Leahlabel, and Onas and Xilyka; two knife dancers that Heloise befriends and become her body guards.

We also learn more about the nature of the villainous “Order” and the armies opposing Heloise and her small band of defiant survivors. They clash in some pretty brutal and epic scenes. The climax of the book is particularly thrilling. In it Cole Cole expertly shows off his background as a military vet, ancient warfare scholar, and fantasy fan.

The Queen of Crows is a fast paced, powerful, and thrilling tale, full of great characters. It’s made even more exciting by a refreshing punk rock style approach to epic fantasy. The book is only 250 pages so it’s like Cole took the “all killer-no filler” approach of some of the best Ramones songs and applied it to the epic fantasy sub-genre. The result is a hell of a novel and a fantastic set up for the final book in the trilogy, The Killing Light.

Categories: Book Review

Book Review- Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher

February 7, 2020 Leave a comment

Spoiler Warning: You might not want to read this review if you haven’t seen all three seasons of Netflix’s Stranger Things

Darkness on the EdgeThe action heroes of the ’80s were flawed, fascinating men thrust into extraordinary situations. They messed up and got beat up, but tenacity and a dedication to what’s right kept them going and lead them to triumph in the end. Matt and Ross Duffer, the creator of Netflix’s Stranger Things understand that. It’s why they created such a memorable character in Jim Hopper, the Chief of Hawkins Police Department. David Harbour, the actor who brings Hopper to live, gets that too. It’s why Hopper became such a fan favorite character, and part of why Season Three of Stranger Things was so great and powerful.

If you’re like me, the ending of Season Three left you longing for more of Hopper’s adventures. It’s unclear if we’ll be getting any more present day tales, but there’s plenty of Hopper’s past that’s been alluded to that we don’t know a lot about like his time in Vietnam and his days as a New York cop. That kind of stuff makes for a good tie-in novel. So, the bases were already loaded, so to speak, for Adam Christopher’s Stranger Things tie-in novel Darkness on the Edge of Town. He had a great protagonist in the form of Jim Hopper, and he had a fascinating setting in ’70s era New York. Even with all that set up, Christopher could have struck out or just got a base hit. He didn’t though. Darkness On the Edge of Town is a grand slam home run of a novel.

Part of the reason the book is so great is Christopher gets what makes his protagonist tick Adam Christopherand nails Hopper’s voice. Every scene from Hop’s past feels in character. I can practically hear David Harbour saying his dialogue in my head. Christopher also nails the incredibly poignant dynamic between Hopper and his new adopter daughter Eleven. That’s because part of the book is a conversation between El and Hopper a couple days after Christmas in 1984 (So the book is set about seven months before Season 3). Eleven wants to know more about her new Dad’s past, but Hop is conflicted. Part of that past is painful, and he knows El has been hurt and wants to be careful with her. All of that is in the scenes between Hopper and El, and it makes those moments really enjoyable to read. Much of the book flashes back to Hopper’s past, but occasionally that story will halt as Christopher jumps back to Hawkins, and I was happy to have that break.

The bulk of Darkness on the Edge of Town takes place in New York in 1977 during Hopper’s time as a Detective with the NYPD. So, it features almost entirely new characters. Those characters are incredibly compelling too. I really liked Hop’s partner, Delgado, and Leroy and Martha, two street gang members Hop is forced to work with. My favorite character though was the book’s villain St. John. He’s charismatic, creepy, cool, and shares a past with Hopper. He feels like he stepped out of a classic ’70s era crime or action movie.

I think that’s deliberate too because with the plot of Darkness on the Edge of Town Christopher shows an understanding of what made classic ’70s cinema so great. The book starts out as a period detective piece. Then as it moves forward new fun layers are revealed. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that ultimately Darkness on the Edge of Town reads like a fun mash up of ’70s cop films and Walter Hill’s The Warriors. You also get the extra flavoring of some conspiracy thriller elements and even some ’70s horror films. It’s that cool and fun.

All of those elements are blended so well together that I would have read Darkness on the Edge of Town even if it wasn’t a Stranger Things tie-in. The fact that it was, and it makes fantastic use of a great character like Jim Hopper makes it even more enjoyable though. This is the first book I’ve read by Adam Christopher, and now I definitely want to read more of his work.

Categories: Book Review

Book Review- Anyone by Charles Soule

January 18, 2020 Leave a comment

AnyoneOne of the joys of being a comic book journalist for over a decade is watching writers develop and really come into their own. I’ve had that experience with a number of writers, but it’s been rare for me to see a writer bring all he’s learned from writing comics to a new medium like prose. When it happens though it’s astounding, and it’s happened with writer Charles Soule.

I know Soule best from the work he’s done for Marvel Comics with their superhero and Star Wars titles. I’ve also enjoyed his creator owned books like Letter 44 and Curse Words. So, I was very curious about his 2018 debut prose novel, The Oracle Year. I loved it. It’s clear the world building and character development muscles that Soule had perfected writing comics carried over to the medium of prose. As good as The Oracle Year was though it was clear Soule had bigger and even more immersive tales to tell.

Anyone, Soule’s latest prose novel, which came out in December of last year, is just such a Soulenovel. It’s a big, bold, futurist sci-fi tale in that it takes a speculative piece of technology and imagines all the ways said tech could revolutionize our world for both good and ill. Our guides through this world are some fascinating and flawed characters.

The technology at the root of Anyone is so staggering and thought provoking that your mind reels at the possibilities. That’s because the story revolves around “The Flash” a piece of tech that allows a person’s consciousness to literally inhabit someone else’s body. The ramifications remind me of Richard K Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs’ novels (The first of which, Altered Carbon, is the inspiration for the Netflix series of the same name). Soule has thoroughly thought through these ramifications too. He creates a believable world where ideas about travel, work, and how we relate to each other on both an individual and group level have been changed dramatically.

He does that though by examining both the intended effects of the tech and how it’s used illicitly. A large part of the book follows the exploits of someone who does darkshares; they rent out their body, no questions asked, for people to use in any number of seedy and often illegal schemes. So, Anyone gives readers a nuanced look at how a piece of sci-fi style tech can change our world.

The settings that are explored in depth in Anyone are two places Soule knows very well, the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas of Michigan and New York. He used to live in the former and currently resides in the latter. His knowledge of both areas shines too, and adds to the book. I say this as someone who was born, raised, and still currently lives in the suburban areas around Detroit and Ann Arbor. So, the book is set in my home state and it feels very authentic.

The Michigan set portions of Anyone take place a few years from now and follow the exploits of Gabrielle White, who accidentally creates the Flash technology. We see her struggle with the realities of funding scientific research and the intrigues that come with trying to retain control of what she invented.

The New York portions of the novel are set 25 years in the future and chronicles the tale of Annami, a person who is engaging in darkshare flashes to finance some pretty far reaching schemes. As her story unfolds we learn more about her machinations.

Soule makes great use of his dual narratives too. Each chapter rotates protagonists, time periods, and usually ends with a pretty riveting cliff hanger. So there’s a sense of momentum to Anyone that makes it even more enjoyable to read. Plus, there’s a whole host of great characters in both stories. There are protagonists you root for, villains you hate, and some fascinating nuanced characters who you’ll have mixed feelings for.

I’ve kept quiet about a lot of the twists, turns, and details of Anyone because part of the fun of the book is discovering these things on our own. I will say the details, both small and large are stunning. They add so much power to an already wonderful book.

With Anyone, Soule clearly challenged himself and took his already stellar prose writing game to a whole new level. It was exciting to see, and I’m even more excited to see where he goes next as both a writer of prose and comics.

Categories: Book Review

Book Review- The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

December 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Night FireI wasn’t there at the beginning, but I started there and since then I’ve read all the novels Michael Connelly has written. So I’ve been with characters like Harry Bosch, Mickey Haller, and Renee Ballard since the beginning. I’ve also seen Connelly go from being a great crime fiction writer to one of the best in the business. The past few years his work has been especially interesting because there’s a sense that the saga of Harry Bosch is winding down and the ongoing story of Detective Renee Ballard is ramping up. That feeling of passing the torch continues in Connelly’s latest novel featuring both Ballard and Bosch, The Night Fire. It’s a solid, exciting read, and leaves both characters in fascinating places.

The Night Fire once again finds Ballard and Bosch uniting on a cold case while they actively work on their own separate murder investigations as well. Having read all of the books with both characters there’s a sense of payoff here. You see Harry Bosch trying to continue his life’s calling, but without the armor of youth or a badge. He’s still sharp, but he has to deal with many things he’s not used to. Having Bosch deal with these things refreshes his story. It also give him a sense of vulnerability that’s interesting to see. Plus, there’s a real feeling that time is running out on his days as a detective. It’s bittersweet in that I’ll miss Harry when his murder solving days are done, but it makes the time spent with him so much more powerful.

With Ballard there’s a wonderful sense of her growing into her own skin. When we met connelly1222her in her first novel her life had been turned upside down and she was still making sense of things. In The Night Fire it’s clear she’s starting to realize how good a cop she is and what she can do with the unique position she’s in as a “Late Show” detective. I also really like the dynamic between her and Bosch. They help each other grow. Their relationship as partners may be unofficial but they perfectly compliment each other’s detective styles.

The Night Fire also gives some prominent scenes to another favorite Connelly character we haven’t seen a lot of in a while, Mickey Haller. In the book he’s in action as both a lawyer and a trusted confidant of his brother. So, he’s a supporting character here, but he’s probably the best supporting player in the novel. I hope Connelly has another Lincoln Lawyer novel in him.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because there’s a lot of interesting twists there. I can say when the book begins Ballard is looking into the death of a homeless man, Bosch is investigating the murder of a judge, and together they’re looking at a cold case that Bosch’s old, and now deceased, mentor had been sitting on. All of these cases have some interesting twists and angles. They also lead to some face to face encounters with interesting characters. My favorite is a mysterious hitwoman.

So, The Night Fire is another example of Michael Connelly doing what he does best. You get the familiar trappings of detectives working cases and cases working them, but there’s plenty of new things there that makes me appreciate his work even more. I can’t wait to see where he takes Ballard and Bosch next.

Categories: Book Review, Harry Bosch

Book Review- Rage by Jonathan Maberry

November 27, 2019 Leave a comment

RageI’ve said this before, but if all you’ve read of Jonathan Maberry’s work is his amazing Joe Ledger series there might be times where you forget that the man is an incredible horror writer. He’s also a fantastic writer of action, and the supernatural and sci-fi elements in the Ledger series are always well done too. Plus, the books have genuine laugh out loud, funny moments. So, the Ledger books are always expertly mixed cocktails of mood and tone, and horror is usually part of the mix. Every once in awhile though Maberry does a Ledger novel where horror is at the forefront. Rage, his latest Ledger novel, and the start of a whole new chapter for the series is just such a novel. It’s brutal, harrowing, and incredibly powerful.

Rage is both the title of the book and the major theme. Because in it Joe, Mr. Church, Top, Bunny, and the other members of the newly formed Rogue Team International are out to stop a terrorist organization with a bioweapon that transforms normal people into angry, homicidal, monsters. So, the scenes where the bio-weapon goes to work are brutal, horrific, and very visceral. Maberry takes his talent for incredibly kinetic action scenes and gives them a dark twist. You experience all the horrible things people can do to each other and the fragility of the human body.

That’s the point though. Because Rage is also a meditation on violence and anger. It’s a 250px-JonathanMaberrystory about the fragile bonds between human beings and how important it to work to keep them vital and strong. It’s also a story about what happens when you answer violence with violence. So, it’s a book with no easy answers, but it takes the “those who hunt monsters should work not to become them” element that have always been a part of the Ledger novels to a whole fascinating new level.

So, Rage, is one of most hard hitting Ledger novels to date, but it’s still also really fun. You get to see Joe, Top, Bunny, Mr. Church , and Bug in a new worldwide status quo. So all the dynamics you love about the series are there, but there’s plenty of other cool stuff like Rogue Team’s new headquarters, and it’s new members; an Italian man named Andrea and a Mauritanian woman named Belle. By the end of the novel I loved them both.

You also get to check in with lots of familiar faces. I won’t say who because catching up with these characters is part of the fun for long time readers and might spoil things. I will say though this is a novel that makes the most of the new “International” era and status quo for Joe. It’s fast paced, exciting, and leaps across the globe.

So, if you’re a long term fan of Ledger’s adventures, like me, or someone jumping on board for this new era (If so, welcome, but go back and read the other Ledger books! You’ll be so glad you did!) prepare yourself. This novel will hurt in some spots. I openly sobbed after reading some scenes. With that hurt comes reward though because Rage, is also incredibly moving. And it leaves its characters in fascinating places. If I could time travel and grab the next Ledger book I would. That’s how excited I am for what comes next.

Categories: Book Review, Joe Ledger

Book Review- The House of Night and Chain by David Annandale

November 21, 2019 Leave a comment

House of Night and ChainI fell in love with the world of Warhammer 40,000 because of how rich it is. It’s a universe that’s a mishmash of so many cool things I love; science fiction, fantasy, horror, a noirish morality, and the visual aesthetic of heavy metal. Last year, Black Library, the imprint of Games Workshop that publishes 40K fiction, began a new line of books that featured all the things that make 40K what it is, but the horror aspects would be focused on and emphasized. I was excited to hear that news, but the initial books in the Warhammer Horror line didn’t really have a title that piqued my interest.

That all changed this year when I saw the announcement for The House of Night and Chain by David Annandale. I’ve loved Annandale’s previous 40K work, and the book appeared to be one of my favorite types of horror tales; a haunted house story. So, I was pretty excited to read the book. I just finished it, and I’m happy to report that it was everything I was hoping it would be and more.

Essentially, The House of Night and Chain feels like if you took all the fascinating trappings of 40K and used them to tell a story like The Haunting of Hill House or The Shining It’s that good! It’s clear that Annandale had a blast writing it.

The House of Night and Chain is about a wounded Imperial Guard officer called back to david_annandalehis ancestral home planet. While he’s there he must suss out some political intrigue for the good of the Imperium. He also must piece back together the familial bonds between him and his children that were shattered years ago after his wife took her own life. To do that, he has to venture back to and explore, Malveil, his family’s sprawling and ancient estate.

Maeson Strock, Annandale’s protagonist, is a pretty fascinating character. The grief he feels over not being there for his wife and family gives the book an extra sense of pathos and poignancy. Annandale expertly weaves together Strock’s grief with the madness and mystery of what’s going on in a way that’s reminiscent of the films of writer/director, Mike Flanagan. Plus he populates the tale with a number of fascinating characters like Strock’s political rival, his two children, and members of the Adeptus Arbites and Ecclesiarchy.

I can’t really say too much more about The House of Night and Chain without spoiling things. So, I’ll finish by saying it truly lives up the intention of the Warhammer Horror line. In it, Annandale tells a wonderfully creepy and disturbing haunted house tale that is made extra enjoyable by all the signature elements of Warhammer 40,000

Book Review- A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais

October 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Dangerous ManThere are a few examples of series fiction that I read, which are so consistently good and entertaining that it’s easy to take them for granted. Robert Crais’ crime novels starring L.A. based private eye Elvis Cole and his best friend, military operator Joe Pike, is just such a series. The last few entries have all been filled with great characters, exciting action, and powerful and poignant moments. So, spending time with Elvis and Joe feels like catching up with old friends. Crais’ new novel A Dangerous Man is no exception.

The novel thrusts Pike and Cole into a middle of an attempted kidnapping. The target is an innocent teller that works at Pike’s bank, who has no idea why people are after her. So Pike and Cole dig into the matter and find themselves caught up in a web of intrigue that has ensnared a heist crew, mysterious criminals from out of town, the local cops, and some angry Federal Marshals.

No spoilers, but the action is great, the mystery surrounding the teller is fun and interesting, and Crais’ dialogue is crackling like always. So I sped through A Dangerous Man.

The chapters which follow Elvis and Joe’s perspectives are great. It’s interesting to see Crais no longer write Cole’s P.O.V. chapters in first person. I feel like that’s the first time he’s done this, but I could be wrong. I thought it might be jarring, but it’s not. It actually works with the novel. Another old favorite that appears in A Dangerous man is Elvis and Joe’s contact in the LAPD’s forensic sciences’ division, John Chen. John is both a gross and not very nice person. He’s hard to like, but to Crais’ credit he gives Chen some humanity. So you can both hate and feel sorry for Chen. That makes him a nuanced and very interesting character.

A Dangerous Man also features a number of new and very interesting characters. Somerobert_crais of them even get their own P.O.V. chapters. My favorite new characters were probably Isabel Roland, the teller I mentioned earlier, and her best friend Carly. They’re women in their 20s who live normal lives that don’t usually intersect with the dangerous worlds of Elvis and Joe. So they added some real heart to the story. You could tell Crais enjoyed writing Izzy and Carly.

I also really enjoyed the Federal Marshals that were part of the story. I would read a separate novel series starring their leader, Pryor Gregg.

I should also mention that, like Michael Connelly, Crais is a master at bringing L.A. crime stories to life. You really get a sense of place that enlivens every facet of the story, especially the action packed climax.

So, A Dangerous Man was another fun, well written entry in one of the longest running and most consistently entertaining Private Eye series in crime fiction. Like I said at the start, that’s something you can easily take for granted. Elvis and Joe have been around since the late 80s though, and their latest adventure still feels as fresh, fascinating, and fun as some of their exploits decades ago. That’s a huge accomplishment and a testament to both Crais’ skill and growth as a writer.