Wednesday, March 26, 2014

THE COLLECTOR series by Chris F. Holm

Hello everyone! Welcome to Craig's Book-ends. I'm not here to talk about myself but you are probably wondering what this place is all about so I'll invite you to look under where it says "Craig's Book-ends" to read the blog description and it'll tell you what you need to know. With that out of the way, I'd like to dive in and talk about some great books!

THE COLLECTOR is a series of books by writer Chris F. Holm. Holm is from New York and has been published in places such as NEEDLE: A MAGAZINE OF NOIR, ALL DUE RESPECT, THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011 and more. He's been shortlisted for and even won many awards. He deserves all the praise he gets and more but now I'm getting ahead of myself. 

First, let's talk about what THE COLLECTOR is all about. According to Mr. Holm's blog...

Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls. The souls of the damned, to be precise. Condemned to an eternity of servitude to hell thanks to a devil's bargain he made to save his dying wife, this gig of his is part penance, part punishment, and all suck. But just because he's a capital-letters Bad Guy doesn't mean he's a bad guy...

Sam Thornton is a classic noir character -- just a guy who made a bad decision. That decision, in DEAD HARVEST, leads him into the grim supernatural world of the Collector, those who collect the souls of the damned. However, Sam will learn in THE WRONG GOODBYE and THE BIG REAP that the world of The Collector has its own rules and, in the tradition of characters like Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, Sam Thornton has his own ideas about right and wrong no matter what the celestial big-wigs have to say about it. By the end, Sam will have to ask himself just which side he is on.

As you can see, one might say that the name of the game is urban fantasy. However, one of the things that sets these novels apart from most of the rest of the urban fantasy crowd is Holm's prose. He is clearly inspired by hardboiled and pulp fiction. His prose is tight and fast. Once the action is set in motion it doesn't stop until the end.

Second, Sam Thornton himself. Holm has constructed a memorable, funny, interesting, sad, thought-provoking character in Thornton and the reader will think of him long after the books finish. Readers would do good to have the second and third volumes waiting on the shelf because Sam Thornton and the world he inhabits demands to be returned to immediately.

Third, worldbuilding. This is not epic fantasy like Rothfuss or Tolkien but Holm's love of the fantastic is obvious. There are no info dumps, no pages of pure worldbuilding, but Holm has created a complex, fascinating world for Thornton to inhabit and it is revealed slowly, bit by bit, satisfying while always leaving you wanting a little more.

Each volume gets a little better than the last, the stakes get a little higher each time for Thornton, and a new piece of the puzzle is unveiled each time. Like any great book, these can be enjoyed on the surface for all the thrills and chills that they offer. Also like any great book, there is more on offer if you peel back the surface a little. It'll make you ponder a little something about humanity, morality, the nature of good and evil, only the most fundamental human questions. 

Finally, one of the core questions of this blog: does it hold up to the end? No. Beyond that. You'll love the first book and you'll go directly into the next one dying to know what happens next. After that, you'll wonder how Holm could possibly make this series any better and you'll get to the final entry and you'll discover how for yourself. 

However, when you reach the bottom of the final page of THE BIG REAP, you'll wonder where to go next. There are more books by Chris F. Holm to discuss and, believe me, we will be discussing them later here at Craig's Book-ends. That said, do you want to know where I went after the end of THE COLLECTOR series? I went back to the beginning.

There is no limit to the amount of praise that I could bestow on these novels. They are among my very favorites. I talk to everyone I think will listen about them. I re-read them -- sometimes in whole, sometimes only sections I'm particularly fond of. If you're a fan of hardboiled crime fiction or fantasy and the intersection of those sounds like your cup of joe, I strongly implore you to go to your bookseller of choice and grab all three of the books in Chris F. Holm's THE COLLECTOR. 

No comments:

Post a Comment