Holm, Chris F. -- Dead Harvest (Collector, 1)

Noir, noir, very noir. The classical definition of the hardboiled detective story -- pardon me if I get this wrong, it's not my field -- is the not-quite-fallen hero working on behalf of the not-quite-innocent victim. This is a relentlessly literal take: Sam Thornton is a damned soul, dead and Hell-bound. In his case, Hell is the world of the living; he's charged with collecting the souls of the worst sinners, i.e., people just like he was. Only his intentions were good (pause for cliche); it doesn't count towards parole, or towards anything else, but he tries to hold onto what humanity he's got. Knowing that it will slip through his non-corporeal fingers anyhow.

Like I said, very noir. The setup is great; the book is not quite what I was hoping. I guess it's a problem of familiarity. It's a Milton-for-the-modern-age Christian cosmos, which has exactly no surprises for anybody who grew up on Sandman and Hellblazer comics. The big reveal at the end was a big "Yeah, this again" from me.

To be sure, the book has plenty of plot -- most of which consists of cinematic chases, fights, helicopter crashes, manhunts, and an intimidating bystander body count. (The bystanders are, to the author's further credit, not faceless.) It was a fast adrenaline-driven read. I may read the sequels. But I'm not getting the sense that I'll get anything out of them, beyond the moment-to-moment burn of danger.

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