Sam is a collector of damned souls. After selling his soul to a demon, he’s spent the last Seventy years claiming the souls of the damned. It’s the kind of job that can harden any man, and It’s taking it’s toll on Sam.
In the first book, Dead Harvest, he’s dispatched to collect a young girl who reportedly slaughtered her family, but when he wraps his fingers around her soul to claim it, feels her innocence. Compelled by the shredded remnant of his conscience, he spares her and begins to investigate what really happened, and prove someone or something framed her. If he’s wrong, he’s protecting a murderer, if he’s right, someone is trying to begin a war between Heaven and Hell that would destroy the world.
Now Sam is back in the second book of the series, The Wrong Goodbye, and he’s found himself in no small amount of trouble again. This time, a soul he was sent to collect has gone missing, and he needs to get it back or once more, unpleasantness will descend.
What makes Sam an engaging character is that he’s cut from the same cloth as other noir heroes, like Sam Spade or Jake Gittes. He’s grinding out eternity as an errand boy, when fate intervenes and forces him to step up. He’s a good man forced to do bad things, who won’t sacrifice the last shreds of decency left in his own tattered soul. For Dead Harvest, the tone and pace were purely hard boiled pulp. The story lingered on a darker outlook on the world, and raced through to it’s conclusion. For The Wrong Goodbye, Holm has brought in a buddy road movie feel, with Sam joined by the soul of a recently deceased mobster in the body of a fat man named Frohman from Chicago. If you got that joke, you get a sense of the type of humor Chris Holm is trucking in here.
Beyond the humor, Chris Holm’s real talent is keeping the plot moving at breakneck pace. He doesn’t set a ticking clock, but he effectively drives home the danger of every delay, and builds action sequences that race along. He also knows how to build horrific scenes, using these moments to drive home how dire the outlook is if Sam doesn’t resolve things quickly.
Two books in, and so far the collector series hits plenty of high notes. These books are a lot of fun, very well plotted and expertly paced. They’re a great addition to the Angry Robot family of books, and they’ll make a great addition to your library. Dead Harvest is available now, and The Wrong Goodbye is due out September 25th.