'The Wrong Goodbye', the second in the very cool 'Collectors' series is more mature and true to the PI formula than 'Dead Harvest'. A collection gone bad sees Sam on the hunt for a former friend which will once again place him and his handler Lilith at the mercy of a much higher and devastating power.
The opening sequence in the Amazon jungle has a distinct pulp feel to it reminiscent of a Gabriel Hunt novel. The subsequent discovery of a stolen soul amidst the bloody jungle chaos prompts a flash back to the collection of a doll makers soul some time ago, written equal to a well nourished short story brimming with tension and overt, in-you-face horror. A mere glimpse into the more macabre side of Sam’s profession. I sure hope Holm explores Sam's past escapades further - there is a lot of scope for some decent stories here.
'The Wrong Goodbye' comes with a more hardened edge to it. Sound allegiances are found to have subtle cracks, murder doesn't equate to the end, and collection becomes part of a drug-like trade. I loved the introduction of the skim-joint, a sort of drug haven for the damned and physically misplaced where a glimpse of life is provided at a cost – a kind of supernatural drug house, only this one is based in a former sanatorium. Holm continues to hone in the deviant activity paramount through his world building series. Skim joint aside, another side of Lilith is exposed, and a new character - a creepy crawly creature of seemingly unknown origins is introducted- all these elements provide further evidence that something big is brewing.
Demons, angels, soul collectors, and murderous individuals - it's all within the pages of 'The Wrong Goodbye'. The plot itself is interesting with a layer of complexity added with each revelation alongside Sam's journey to track down Danny. Gio – a humours sidekick provides some nice comic relief and is a great teaming with Sam. Gio also lightens Sam tough guy persona as we see the collector express more emotion and second guess any violent encounter.
At the end of the book, Holm labels his work as fantastical noir and he's pretty damn close in that description of this series. It's got elements of the supernatural, the traditional hallmarks of noir (as Holm so aptly described in his end of book essay) and damn fine writing. If I were to compare the theme and feel of the series to other fiction, there are aspects of the graphic novel 'Fatal' (horror, noir mash-up), the Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston (the supernatural of sorts PI angle), and a splattering of influence by the masters in Cain, Chandler, and Hammett (as the smart title(s) suggest).
My review of 'Dead Harvest' can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/219581945
Find more cool books by Angry Robot on their website: http://angryrobotbooks.com/
More on Chris F Holm can be found on his website: http://www.chrisfholm.com/index/intro.html