Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.
Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.
Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.
In The Wrong Goodbye we begin to add to the cocktail that is Sam’s world and life. I use the cocktail analogy carefully as they can be either sweet or sour - have too much and there is always a price. Just like the Sam’s life and afterlife.
The calibre and reality of Holm’s writing is supremely encompassing, drawing the reader into Sam’s world. You can really feel Sam slip away from himself with each body he is forced to command. When your boss is the first woman and your Soul is damned to an eternity of servitude you don’t get any MHD (Mental Health Days).
Holm likes to give the reader a nice recap at the start, as well as providing a good narrative along the way, including titbits you may have forgotten. The internal monologue of Sam on his past failings and on the road he travelled to get to this point is interesting but they can however pop up at the wrong time and overplay the chapter.
The humour in The Wrong Goodbye is, as you would expect, dark and colourful, much like the people Sam interacts with. The dealings that Sam has with Lilith and Dumas (the demon that originally corrupted Sam’s Soul) have been kicked up a gear. We get a better look into Sam’s reasoning for his choice and his way of handling what he considers his justified punishment - I personally wouldn’t be as civil to the hell spawn who tricked me into selling my Soul. I think there is a little of the defeatist in Sam and when he does finally wake up to his situation and discovers his own spine I am hoping this changes.
Much like the cover art, the noir is still strong in Sam’s world as he gumshoes his way to tracking down Danny in order to retrieve the Soul. The action is fast paced and nonstop and not everyone is out to help Sam, many are looking to hinder him as he is chased by Demons and Angels alike. Either way Sam is screwed.
A new addition from Holm is the edge of humanity that he has added to the Demon culture. We now see Demon Drug Lords trafficking in human Souls, witness the Demon’s craving and coveting of humanity moments. This aspect was an interesting addition and while not a major plot point it adds a certain flavour to the back-story. Even the Fallen, beings of untold hate and misery, lust after little pieces of humanities waste.
We also get to see Sam make a friend of two along the way, which is a refreshing change from book one. This time round he is not just one man alone, he is one man and with a stolen Soul shoved into a fat suit and his blind girlfriend. The wilfulness of Sam in their interactions proves a good vehicle for comedy, reluctant bounding and bromance.
The climax of the story was well reasoned out and has far reaching ripples for Sam, the full extent not yet realized. Elements of this will be felt into book three and I am sure beyond.
The Wrong Goodbye is witty, dark and action-driven with dialogue that captivates and provides a story just as compelling as in the first book.
Review by Fergus McCartan
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