Dead Harvest (The Collector #1) by Chris F. Holm
Angry Robot Books (Feb 2012) | Paperback, 416 pages

Urban Fantasy

Sam is a soul collector and quite successful at his job until he is ordered to collect the soul from 17 year old Kate who is accused of viciously killing her family. Sam believes Kate to be innocent of her crime and they both end up on the run from those who want her dead. It doesn’t take long, in fact just a few near death experiences, before Sam realises that they are trying to hide not just from whoever wants Kate’s soul collected but from both angels and demons, as well as, the police. He is hoping his contacts in the demon world will help him solve the mystery of who is trying to set up Kate for the murder of her family and why.

Things take a turn for the worse when the collector Bishop shows up to do the job that Sam refuses to. Bishop is not just some mean killing machine but the same collector who ripped Sam’s soul from him decades before. Sam doesn’t have time to hold a grudge as he tries to keep one step ahead to save the day and Kate in the process.

Holm takes the tried and tested ‘good versus evil’ and gives it a twist in Dead Harvest where the bad guy may not be so bad after all. Holm’s world building is strong as is his development of Sam as a lead character. Other characters in the story including Kate aren’t as fully developed as Sam but I think it works in the story’s favour as we aren’t bogged down with the history of a large number of characters. There are relatively few other lead characters in the story apart from Sam and Kate but one of note is Anders.

Anders is gifted with the ability to past Sam’s ‘meat skin’ and has been driven to the streets as society believes him to be delusional. Anders comes to Sam’s rescue more than once and we get glimpses of Sam’s humanity through his interaction with this character. Sam’s back story is exposed through scenes that almost have a dream like quality as current events trigger his memory of his life before he became a collector and through these we discover how he came to his present situation. Holm uses these scenes to sway the reader to empathise with Sam whereas you might be inclined to doubt his intentions considering what he has become.  These scenes also helped to break the tension of Sam’s frenetic attempts to escape both the police and everyone else who want to see Kate dead and him suffer a long, tortuous demise.

Holm creates the perfect balance between high action, thriller and mystery. Normally, I don’t normally like stories where the main characters are constantly being beaten up or on the run but in this case the construct of the plot was such that I looked forward to see how Sam would get out of the next crisis, beating or general act of mayhem. I was immediately drawn into the book and found it a really quick read despite the amount of detail and every changing scenes. To me, this is a sign of a Holm’s success as a story teller as reading a book quickly doesn’t always mean it is that good. In the case of Dead Harvest I was gripped from page one all the way to the end.


Dead Harvest is a fast paced, thoroughly enjoyable read. Sam is a great character who seems conflicted in everything other than his mission to save Kate. Holm succeeded in writing a book that had me hooked from page one and I could hardly put it down. I was even a tad disappointed when it finished but then I remembered book two is already out. Hurrah! If you are looking for a quirky mystery that has you cheering for the underdog then Dead Harvest is a must read.


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  1. Dead Harvest
  2. The Wrong Goodbye




A displaced Canadian living in the UK who when not reading is often found trawling through GoodReads looking for something to read or buying another book on Amazon. [Melanie no longer reviews for the site.]


Gemma December 4, 2012 at 8:35 am

*rushes to put this on her wish list*

This sounds like it is the book THE LOST tried to be. Both have very similar themes. Angel sent to collect soul. Angel rebel’s. Puts Angel and human on run.

Great Review Mel!


Carolyn December 4, 2012 at 10:21 am

I agree with Gemma, this sounds like a great read. I’ll definitely pop it on my ever growing wishlist. Great review, Melanie!


Melanie December 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Its a great book ladies and book 2 is even better!


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