April 17, 2012

Rabid Reads: "Kill Them All" (Dead Man #6) by Harry Shannon

Kill Them All (The Dead Man #6)
by Harry Shannon
Adventures in Television (2011)

I've been falling behind in Lee Goldberg's and William Rabkin's Dead Man series. In the time since I read the fifth volume, The Blood Mesa, which was way back in the summer of last year, a lot has happened. The series is already up to about the eighth volume--maybe ninth by now--and the books even got picked up Amazon's publishing wing, 47 North. Bigger and better things, but are the books still bringing the goods?

When last we saw our hero, he was in New Mexico as I recall thwarting a cult on the top of a mesa in the desert. In Kill Them All, Matt Cahill is wandering down a Nevada road until he finds himself in a desiccated "old west" town. And the sparse population is comprised of characters, each more eccentric than the last. After an impromptu display of his ass-kicking ability, Matt discovers there is an influence on a few people in town by who he suspects is Mr. Dark. But when he digs a little deeper on the outskirts at an old farm, he finds a whole lot more than he bargained for, including a brand new enemy who is out for blood--literally.

The book is filled with action of every stripe. Fist fights, gun fights. About the only thing missing was a car chase. Kill Them All also feels like the most stand-alone of all the books since the very first one. The wandering stranger motif is in full effect and done quite well, though the action took away from some character development of the townsfolk that I thought could have used just a bit more attention. And while the callback to the overarching storyline didn't go the way I expected, and was hoping for considering how long it was since I'd read from this series, the new introductions put into the story by Harry Shannon were really intriguing and added a new dreadful angle to Matt Cahill's ordeal that should come into play very nicely in future editions.

It's not a blowout return to the series, but that's on me given the amount of time it's been since I read The Blood Mesa, although the vibe of the Dead Man series is pitch perfect and the showdown with a gang of mercenaries was explosive literally and figuratively. Fans of the series ought to enjoy it, but newcomers are best to go back to the first book and work your way through. Pulpy, blood-soaked, sun-bleached fun.

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