by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin
Adventures in Television, Inc. (May 2011)
Purchase for Amazon Kindle
Purchase for Amazon Kindle
Peter over at The Man Eating Bookworm had a pretty good line to describe the third installment in The Dead Man series, and the wondering by readers of the second book as to where Matt Cahill's precious ax was: The ax is back!
If you haven't read the first two books in this series, you won't be totally lost reading Hell in Heaven, but there are aspects of the novella that can only be appreciated in you've been reading the series from the start. One such aspect is the lead character, Matt Cahill's affinity towards his late father's ax. It's his touchstone, you might say. And is indeed back and being put to use in brutal fashion throughout this book.
Matt is on the road again, a vagabond on a mission to learn what he can about his supernatural nemesis, Mr. Dark. He winds his way upon his motorbike into the mountains of Washington state and discovers an out of the way town called Heaven--and they've been expecting him. Well, someone in that town has been expecting him. And when his welcome wagon gives him the creeps, he winds up in the company of a horrendous monster that has been terrorizing the town for years. When he dispatches the monster, things get even stranger as the town suddenly sees him as their new "lawgiver."
The rhythm of this series is really becoming clear with its episodic nature, kind of like The Incredible Hulk--the TV series, not the movies--with David "Dont' Call Me Bruce" Banner roving the countryside, or Quantum Leap ... without the time travel. The setting this time around might even be even more visited upon in horror than the mental hospital from the second book: a secluded small town with mysteriously behind-the-times townsfolk and its dirty little secret.
The action delivered, which is where this series seems to thrive, but there were a couple of scenes this time around where the interaction between Matt Cahill and his antagonists felt stilted. One scene in particular toward the end came off to me a bit too formal. Maybe it was just the feeling I got that Cahill's attempts at being the voice of reason seemed plain odd, along with his wonderment at the batshit insane stuff that happens to him, given what he's been through in the series so far. While I might describe this as the weakest episode of the series, but I still liked Hell In Heaven, and am still a fan of this series.
David McAfee takes the reins in the fourth installment of The Dead Man series, with a novella entitled The Dead Woman. And I believe James Reasoner is on deck after that for the fifth installment. It ought to be interesting to see how these different voices bring their own approaches to the Matt Cahill character.