The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector #2) by Chris F. Holm
Publisher: Angry Robot Books/Sept. 25th, 2012
Kind thanks to Angry Robot Books for providing a review copy
Deep in the jungles of Columbia, Sam Thornton is on the hunt for the soul of Pablo Varela, drug czar and brutal killer. When he gets to the camp, his whole posse is dead, and a message is carved on the chest of one of the bodies. There’s only one person who could have left the message: Sam’s old friend and fellow Collector, Danny Young. Danny now has the soul that only Sam was supposed to collect, and if he doesn’t get it back soon, the powers that be will be very, very angry. Sam met Danny in 1953 while in Amsterdam for a Collection. Danny wanted to team up, be each other’s support system, and in spite of the strict rules against consorting with other Collectors, a friendship was born. You see, there are two types of people that come up for Collection: contract kills and freelancers. Contract kills are generally good people who’ve made a deal with a demon, many times in order to help someone else. Freelancers are people that revel in the misery and suffering of others(serial killers, psychos, you get the picture…). Both Sam and Danny were contract kills and both ended up as Collectors, as they sometimes do. The way Danny saw it, with the horrible job they had to do, Collectors should stick together, support each other, even if it was against the rules. It also doesn’t help that Sam is still reeling from an angelic confrontation that may have kicked off a war between heaven and hell.
I really enjoyed Dead Harvest, the first book in the Collector series, but in The Wrong Goodbye, Chris F. Holm really brings the awesome. Told in Sam’s voice, we get quite a lot more insight into why he is the way he is, not to mention some insights into his past collections that will chill you. The author has a gift for lush descriptions and his creatures made my skin crawl more than once.
Poor Sam has quite a few enemies to contend with in this one. He’s certainly been under scrutiny since his last big demon/angel confrontation; however, he does find friends in unusual places, such as a former small time hood, Gio, whose soul he places inside another body in order to use him as a sort of dowsing rod in finding the missing soul of Varela. During their trek across the desert, they also meet up with an oilman trying to escape the clutches of his greedy soon-to-be ex-wife, and a blind, transvestite fortune teller.
The action is pretty much nonstop, yet somehow the author managed to balance that with laugh out loud and terrifying moments in equal measure. Their wild journey across the desert will lead them to an L.A. Day of the Dead celebration and a showdown with powerful magic you won’t soon forget Sam is not your usual protagonist. After all, the man changes bodies like we change socks, and since he doesn’t have his looks to rely on, it’s who he is as a man that makes him a worthy hero. And he is worthy. Magic, betrayel, creatures made of bugs. It’s all in a day’s work for Sam.
I couldn’t make this stuff up, but Chris F. Holm can, and it’s a good thing, because we get to have a blast reading it. This series is urban fantasy at its best with subtle noir undertones and the combo just works. Also, if you’re a fan of the classics in hardboiled noir, the title is especially awesome. I wanted to hug this book when I finished (it happens sometimes, don’t judge.) If the author keeps this up, he’ll be giving some of the big UF names a run for their money, very, very soon. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, you’re in for a wonderful ride!