The year is absolutely rocketing by, and it’s time once again for the next installment of The Dead Man. If you haven’t been reading the series, now is a good time to jump on board, because the first book, Face of Evil, has been reduced to a measly 99 cents at Amazon(for Kindle).
Hell in Heaven, is the third book in the series, and sees the return of Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin to the driver seat, after book two, Ring of Knives was penned by James Daniels.
So what paranormal mayhem does Matthew Cahill find himself involved in this time? The story starts with Matt continuing his search, on a motorcycle, for the elusive Mr. Dark. But so far, he has found neither hide nor hair of him – and that’s beginning to wear on his nerves. On the highway, he sees an off ramp that leads to a small village named Heaven.
Matt decides that Heaven is possibly the perfect place for ‘The Dead Man’ to rest and regroup, and think of a better strategy for locating Mr. Dark. The thing is though, that Matt has never been to Heaven before, and doesn’t quite realise what he is in for.
At first glance, Heaven looks like the type of town that hasn’t changed in one-hundred years – which in this day and age is kind of creepy. But what is even more creepy, as Matt rides into town, is that a banner has been strung across the main street which reads ‘Welcome home, Matt’.
But the sign isn’t for Matt Cahill. It’s intended as a welcome for a soldier named Matt Delaney, who has been recently discharged. But as Matt’s features are hidden by a motorcycle helmet, the townsfolk are not to know who he is and rush out to greet him.
Once the townsfolk realise their error, they return to their homes and their lives. There and then, Matt decides that Heaven is not the place for him, and prepares to leave, but just before he goes, an old woman grabs him by the arm and whispers, ‘help us!’
Matt agrees to stay and help, but Heaven is not your average backwoods town, and he finds himself caught in the middle of a Hatfields vs the McCoys style power struggle – that is, Hatfields vs the McCoys via John Boorman’s Deliverance (without the banjos), and with a dab of The Wicker Man thrown in for good measure. Matt finds himself enmeshed in quite a surreal adventure. Thankfully, he has on hand his grandfather’s axe, and when in doubt…, well sometimes it just best to come out swinging!
Those who have read the first two installments of The Dead Man series, myself included, have been waiting for Matt to start wielding the axe. The axe has already established itself as a symbol for The Dead Man character – look at the logotype on the book cover above – and as such, it’s time for it to take centre stage. And here, Matt starts chopping, not just wood, but at some of the things that go bump in the night. However, despite his affinity for the axe, initially he is not as confident as you might think. Matt is still pretty much human – an everyman – so his first foray into the world of fighting the forces of darkness with his preferred weapon, certainly cannot be compared to the fluid, muscular hacking displayed by Conan the Barbarian (although Conan is named-checked a few times in the story).
Hell in Heaven, once again is a brisk entry in the series, and I am pleased to report that the story didn’t go anywhere that I predicted. After the first two installments, in my head, I thought I had figured out the formula and the pattern the series would take, but this sort of threw me (which is good!) If the series keeps presenting stories as deliciously unpredictable as this (but obviously within the boundaries already established), then I can see myself continuing to read and enjoy The Dead Man’s adventures.
The sign on the exit reads “Heaven.” What better place could there be for a dead man to visit? But when Matt takes the ramp, he finds a banner welcoming him by name to a tiny town seemingly left behind by the 21st century… and waiting for him to rescue it. But when he agrees to save Heaven’s citizens from a coming terror, he discovers that evil has more faces than he could ever imagine – and good is far more complicated than he ever dreamed.
Hell in Heaven is available from today (May 4) on the Kindle, as a trade paperback, and on the Nook., and other online retailers. Next up will be The Dead Woman, by David McAfee (of which two teaser chapters are included with Hell in Heaven).