by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin
Adventures in Television, Inc. (2011)
The Dead Man blog
The new release is described as "... the first in an exciting new series of original short novels that blends the horror of Stephen King's THE GUNSLINGER with the action/adventure of Don Pendleton's MACK BOLAN: THE EXECUTIONER."
I have not read Pendleton's work, but I have read King's Dark Tower series. And while Face of Evil does carry an unrepentant amount of horror within its pages, though not to an imposing degree, the tone of the story is considerably different from The Gunslinger. It's far more grounded in our world with a protagonist far easier to relate to when reading. Perhaps this is where the Pendleton side of things comes into play.
On a cold February day, a body is discovered frozen under the snow at a ski resort. The body is that of Matthew Cahill, a man declared dead after he's lost in an avalanche three months prior--but he's not dead. Somehow, defying medical reasoning, Matthew survived. His ordeals, however, are just beginning as a malevolent force is waiting in the wings, ready to torment him and everyone he holds dear. What's worse, Matthew has crossed paths with this entity before and lost his wife in the process.
The book carries a blue-collar charm that provides a nice counter-balance to the more fantastical and gruesome elements of the story. Matthew is a sawmill worker, or was rather in the wake of layoffs, and is a precursor to his fateful encounter with the avalanche while on vacation with his new girlfriend, Rachel. Their budding and tragic romance provides a lot of the backbone to this story, as Matthew has to cope with the loss of his wife, the antics of his best friend, the loss of his job, and the subsequent resurrection from the ice and snow.
A lot for one guy to deal with, and it only gets heavier.
The book is a short novel, running probably closer to novella in length. And that's kind of a kick in the teeth, since the book only offers a small measure of closure in the time the story is told. This is the first book in a series, though. As such, it feels like the season premiere to a very promising show. Since it's a book, I'll have to wait a wee bit longer than a week for the next installment, but I'm a patient guy. Actually, the second installment is due to be released in a few weeks: The Dead Man #2: Hell in Heaven, which is again co-authored by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, with the series shaping up to include nine books in total.
I think this will end up being one to keep on eye on throughout the year.