Sam thinks it’s just another job – hunt the guy down, rip their soul out, leave it for collection. If only it was that easy. Sam finally tracks down his latest job to discover that someone has done his work for him and the soul he was due to collect is missing. Already in hell’s bad books for killing two demons and starting an apocalypse between the angels and demons he needs to find the soul before he gets permanently shelved. Much to his surprise his friend Danny has his missing soul and the countdown begins to find him, retrieve the soul and get back to his life….or in his case lack thereof. Needless to say it’s not smooth sailing and Sam finds himself on a desperate journey across the country being chased and chasing the illusive Danny and the missing soul to a dramatic end.
Holm really ramps it up in The Wrong Goodbye. He creates a book that is funny, stark and beautifully written in equal measure. One of my favourite scenes in the book and a prime example of Holm’s writing talents is the following –
A horrid emptiness pressed in on me – chilling, absolute. The muted colors of the pre-dawn desert seemed a thousand rainbows strong compared to the terrible void that engulfed me. My thoughts were stripped away – my very sensations – until I found myself longing for the agony of my broken and bloodied physical self.
Until I longed to feel anything at all.
As I plunged ever deeper into the abyss, case alive into the creatures unholy In-Between, I heard its voice as if from somewhere high above.
I loved this scene and did an enormous big sigh when I finished it. I thought these few paragraphs were very evocative and captured the feel and theme of the whole story. There are little gems like this all through the book along with some quite funny ones such as –
“ So do demons really smell like brimstone?” Gio asked once we were back on the open road.
“Not any demon I ever met. Though I once knew one who wore way too much Drakkar”
Holm focuses on theme of friendship and belonging in The Wrong Goodbye. Collectors aren’t allowed to have friends and Sam flouted the rules years ago with a secret group of friends. Sam’s sense of wanting to belong is palatable in the scenes when he reminisces about the past. Being a collector is a lonely job and even more so when he starts to fear he has been betrayed by his former friends. We learn more about Sam’s past in these scenes and his longing for his former life. These scenes also create empathy for Sam and some of the other collectors as they realise the cruelty of fate which has left them in this cycle of never ending limbo of being hell’s courier service. Another interesting relationship that is developed further is the one between Sam and Lilith, his hellish handler, as the dynamic between these two characters grow and change.
I wasn’t able to read the book in one sitting and I had to have almost a two week break in the early chapters. Normally, I would find it really hard to engage and would need to re-read from the start but this was not the case with this book. I was able to dip right back into Sam’s story and everything flowed so well its like I had just put it down for five minutes. I think this is a sign of writing that creates an impact. I had a conversation with Holm on Twitter (well a 140 character conversation) about The Wrong Gooddbye in which he said that he really enjoyed writing this book. This is obvious when you read it and this book really stands out for me because of the quality of the writing. The characterisation and scene setting were excellent and there was a great cliff hanger at the end. Despite that the novelty has worn off of Sam being a collector and I guessed the ending I was still gripped by The Wrong Goodbye and can’t believe I have to wait until next summer to find out what happens to Sam.
While I really liked Dead Harvest, I loved The Wrong Goodbye. The topic and tone of this book was completely different with less emphasis on the battle between good and evil, although it’s still there in the background. I think this really worked in its favour. Sam is well cast as a good guy who ‘done wrong’ and this is exposed in both the composition of his character throughout the story and interaction with new characters along the way. The story is in parts reads like a play with rich scene setting and plot development. The Wrong Goodbye is a fantastic read which will have you wanting to give Sam’s new ‘meat suit’ a big hug in the final chapters. Buy, borrow, but don’t steal it or you could end up like Sam!
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Dead Harvest
- The Wrong Goodbye
- The Big Reap (2013)
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