Dead Man: Ring of Knives (The Dead Man #2)
by James Daniels
Adventures in Television, Inc. (2011)
Purchase for Amazon Kindle
Purchase for Amazon Kindle
I read and reviewed the first novella in The Dead Man series, Face of Evil, back in March and thoroughly enjoyed it (click here to read that review). I basically summed it up as a book version to a strong season premiere of a very promising TV show. So, now that I've read the second book in the series, Ring of Knives, does the series hold onto its momentum, or does it falter?
Matthew Cahill is now a vagabond, following the events of Face of Evil, with an innate sixth sense that allows him to literally see the evil simmering in people under the influence of an evil force he knows as Mr. Dark. It's not exactly a gift though, since he seems to be a magnet for evil now, and the evil people in the world appear to him with rotting, festering, disgusting features. And, when Matt winds up at the Carthage Mental Health Center, he finds himself surrounded by evil.
He's there to meet with a doctor who treated a patient with a similar ability to Matt's, though the other guy was labeled crazy and placed in a padded room. And, Matt half-wonders if he might be crazy, too. When he arrives at the health center though, the patient has been transferred and the doctor is up and gone. After forming an unlikely--and temporary--bond with one of the employees, Matt learns that the doctor isn't gone--he's been committed.
While I'm not sure how well Ring of Knives works as a stand-alone, it is definitely a strong follow-up to Face of Fear. James Daniels tapped into the Matt Cahill character quite well, and offered up a great dilemma as Matt investigates a mental patient with a similar affliction to his own and the ominous facility where he was housed. An insane asylum isn't exactly a unique backdrop for a horror or suspense tale, but there was enough there in a tightly woven novella to give it its own flavor.
There were moments where it felt a bit by the numbers, but that was during the first half of the book. By the time the story passed the halfway mark, all bets were off, and the climax was a nice pay off.
If Ring of Knives accomplishes one thing without question, it is the fact that The Dead Man is a book series worth reading, with a base level established in terms of tone and quality. I won't go so far as to say it's as good or better than Face of Fear, but it's close enough to make a satisfying read and hungry for the next installment The third book in the series, Hell in Heaven, will be out very soon--if it's not already released--with Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin back in at the helm, and I am definitely on board for that one.