DEAD HARVEST by Chris F. Holm

DEAD HARVEST (THE COLLECTOR book one)
Angry Robot Books
February 28, 2012

Samuel Thornton is making the tough decision. He’s not going to follow orders. He’s going to protect the girl Kate the best he can. He’s going to prevent a war between Heaven and Hell.
Sam Thornton is a dead man. But that is nothing new.

Chris F. Holm clearly loves dime store pulp. And supernatural stories. And chase thrillers. So he took them all, threw them into a giant blender, turned it on “high,” and poured the chunky, soupy mess into DEAD HARVEST. And the result is pure awesome.

Sam Thornton is what Holm calls a Collector. His job in the afterlife is to track down the guilty, and “collect” their souls. Since he has long since passed on himself, he usually undertakes these missions in a borrowed body. And because of his lingering sense of morals, that body is usual a corpse. Wearing his “meat suit,” Sam completes his assigned task. But what is a Collector to do when he discovers his latest soul to collect is actually an innocent?

Kate is accused of slaughtering her family in the most horrific manner imaginable. Sam tracks her down to an area hospital, where he finds her under sedation and police guard. As Sam reaches into her body and touches her soul, he is blinded by the purity of her innocence. And collecting an innocent soul is the recipe for starting war between Heaven and Hell. And he knows she didn’t do it. She was framed.

And so begins a breathless chase through New York, as Sam and Kate do everything they can to escape the police who are out to recapture Kate. At the same time, Heaven and Hell send their own agents to find out why Sam has disobeyed orders. Everyone is after the girl, and the consequences are beyond imagining.

For his debut novel, Holm shows impressive skills. DEAD HARVEST is more than just a chase novel. We learn a surprising amount about the other inhabitants of the Collector’s world. What separates angels from demons? How does the concept of free will fit in to it? And why exactly does Sam choose to “borrow” dead bodies instead of the living?

Holm does an impressive job fleshing out the super natural world Sam lives in. Also well done are the story breaks that give wonderful depth and back-story to Sam. Who is he, and how did he come to bear the burden and responsibility of being a Collector?

The tension runs high in DEAD HARVEST, and I was exhausted when I was done reading it. But that really good kind of exhausted. The kind that leaves you with a grin on your face. And that grin turned into a smile when I saw the sample chapter for the next book. Can’t wait for THE WRONG GOODBYE, coming in November, 2012.

You can follow Chris F. Holm on twitter at: @chrisfholm.

Dan Malmon