Lockdown Tales (Polity #20) ★★★✬☆

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Title: Lockdown Tales
Series: Polity #20
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 329
Words: 151K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories about the Polity as it becomes the Post-Polity. This consists of:

The Relict
Monitor Logan
Bad Boy
Plenty
Dr Whip
Raising Moloch

My Thoughts:

From what I could gather, the Polity didn’t collapse so much as it simply ceased to exist as the AI’s bootstrapped most of humanity up to their level and they all decided to stop playing government. The little clues make it seem like this all took less than 100,000 years. There’s no mention, that I can remember, of the newly raised Atheter or any mention of what happened to the Prador. While it all might have made sense in Asher’s head, to me it felt very “I’m bored with this particular literary construct, thus I’ll wave my authorial hand and …..”

Don’t get me wrong. Besides the first story where Asher lets his vitriol against religion take front and center, I enjoyed these stories. They all had his ultra-violence that I’ve come to expect from him as well as the techno-babble that I just skim over now.

What threw me for a loop was that these were not ALL post-Polity. Monitor Logan takes place squarely during the height of the Polity/Prador standoff and Bad Boy takes place on Spatterjay and involves a situation where the AI lets things run their course hoping the inhabitants will apply for Polity membership. It just made me feel like the secondary title on the cover What Comes After the Polity was misleading.

I think this might be a very good jumping on place for anyone new to the Polity. There are 19 previous Polity books and I can imagine it is daunting to a new person to figure out where they want to start.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Salvation’s Reach (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #13) ★★★☆☆

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Title: Salvation’s Reach
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #13
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 311
Words: 108K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Following the events of Blood Pact, Colonel-Commissar Gaunt and his Ghosts are returned to active duty, and are given one of their most formidable assignments yet; a mysterious space hulk known as Salvation’s Reach. According to the turncoat Mabbon Etogaur, the Sons of Sek, a breakaway faction within the Blood Pact commanded by the warlord Anakwanar Sek, have secretly been using Salvation’s Reach as an R&D installation; concealing their activities there from all factions, even their overlord, Archon Gaur.

If Sek’s covert operations are brought to light, it will shatter the uneasy alliance between Sek and Gaur, sparking an internal feud that will tip the balance of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade in the favour of the Imperium. The Tanith First – reinforced with additional troops drawn from Verghast and Belladon – and a trio of veteran Space Marines are sent to neutralise the facility at Salvation’s Reach and gather as much intelligence as possible before they destroy it. However, Gaunt must also see to the protection of the incarcerated Mabbon, deal with the malcontents within the Tanith First, and cope with personal issues that he never anticipated.

A sub-plot in Salvation’s Reach follows Doc Dorden’s battle against terminal cancer, and his determination to serve the Tanith First until the very end. Another sub-plot explores the relationship between Captain Ban Daur and his new partner, Elodie. Through the latter, readers are granted an insight into the lives of the wives and other civilians that follow Imperial Guard regiments around the galaxy. The novel also features the appearance of Brother Kater Holofurnace of the Iron Snakes, a Chapter of Space Marines that previously appeared in Abnett’s novel, Brotherhood of the Snake.

My Thoughts:

I knocked this down half a star because there were some space battle’y scenes and I just don’t care for spaceships slugging it. It wasn’t bad or anything, I just like groundpounder action.

There’s a lot of “hinted at” threats that I sometimes wonder if anyone is going to survive. The rot within the Ghosts, which is typical for most of the armies of man, is really revealed here. It makes you realize WHY the Commissariat exists in the first place and that the Ghost’s have been a pretty exemplary unit. The bad apples are starting to bob to the top though. With this being Warhmmer40k, I half suspect that the entire unit will die by betrayal and fail in a critical mission. That just seems like WH:40K flavor :-/

Dorden dying was no surprise given his cancer. However, it seemed like it was supposed to be poignant or something, like previous characters dying. The problem is, you know people are going to die because this is war and what’s more, this is an ongoing, intergenerational war.The emotional punch has been removed because it is the ordinary, not the extraordinary.

The inclusion of 3 Space Marines (super beings from another age) didn’t do it for me either. They talk a lot about past glory, blah, blah and then toss in how technology has been lost or something for making more of them? I’m not up on my lore, so I don’t see why the Empire can’t churn them out like candy. Even if “something” has been lost, fething find it or rediscover it again! There are hundreds or more of worlds not being assaulted by Chaos, use them for research and development. I am sure the people directing this franchise have taken care of that issue but it wasn’t adequately explained to me at all in this book and just pissed me off with their defeatist attitude.

The fight scenes were what really saved this book for me. The infiltration of the base, finding and disarming boobytraps, then the retreat, it was all in the great groundpounder format that I like.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

V-Wars (V-Wars #1) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: V-Wars
Series: V-Wars #1
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 405
Words: 154.5K



Synopsis:

From Vwars.fandom.com

Conceived of and edited by Bram Stoker Award-winner Jonathan Maberry, V-Wars: is an anthology series of ‘eyewitness accounts’ and ‘frontline reports’ from the vampire apocalypse. After an ancient virus that causes vampire-like symptoms is accidentally released during an Antarctic expedition, humanity must scramble to survive. In this collection of interconnected but unique tales, contributing authors Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, James A. Moore, Gregory Frost, John Everson, Keith R. A. DeCandido, and Scott Nicholson offer gripping accounts of a world spinning towards war and destruction.

My Thoughts:

The “synopsis” was the best I could find without writing my own. A set of authors all write multiple short stories about a character and Maberry, the editor and one of the contributors, weaves the stories all together into one tapestry. So you’ll get a chapter from Maberry about Character X, then a chapter by Navarro about Character A, etc. Most of the characters have no overlap and are written so as to give a broader view of the events happening.

Which basically is that vampires make a huge comeback and how humanity deals with it. This was what I want in a vampire story. Vamps kill humans in one way or another, bloody and violent and it’s all kill or be killed. The thing is, one or two characters are perfectly slotted into the “Woke” side of things and bleat about vamps and it not being their fault and we just have to understand and try to get along with them. They were perfectly done and it took all of my mighty might to appreciate that instead of raging at a fictitional character.

The main reason this is getting only 3.5 instead of 4 is because along with the blood and violence associated with vamps, we also get the sexual side of things. There were too many near explicit scenes for me to be comfortable with. If this trend continues in the next book I’m afraid that it will be the last book in the series I read.

Right at the end there is a character who is revealed as an anti-vamp. She’s a werewolf and transforms in the presence of vampires and kills them. It was awesome!

In many ways this reminded me of the Necroscope series in both good and bad ways. That was another vampire series I had to stop, so we’ll see what happens with this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Blood Pact (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #12) ★★★✬☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot , Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Blood Pact
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #12
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 243
Words: 99K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

After the gruelling events on Jago, the Tanith First is removed from active service for the first time since its founding and sent to Balhaut to perform garrison duties. Two years on, however, the Ghosts are becoming restless from the lack of combat and purpose. A number of them go as far as turning to petty crime and other bad habits to amuse themselves. Ibram Gaunt himself becomes increasingly idle and distracted, but remains confident that the Tanith First will return to the front again soon.

Events turn as Gaunt is summoned to Balhaut’s Commissariat headquarters. A senior officer of the arch-enemy has been captured, and refuses to speak to anyone but Gaunt. The Inquisition is attempting to secure custody of the prisoner so that they may handle him their own way. The prisoner insists that he wishes to help the Imperium, but this claim is met with speculation by Gaunt. However, he is forced to protect the prisoner and go to ground in the city when a Blood Pact insertion team storms the facility in an attempt to silence the prisoner. With heretical witchcraft influencing the populace and a determined hunter pursuing them, who can Gaunt turn to for aid? And what information does the traitor general know that prompts the enemy to openly assault an Imperial stronghold?

The Inquisition gets involved and is as much after Gaunt’s blood as the Blood Pact members. There is a running battle for a day before the Ghosts come to Gaunt’s aid, destroy the Blood Pact, reveal the Inquisitor to be an agent of Chaos and generally kick butt and help destroy the city. Gaunt gets rewarded and everybody prepares to go back to the front lines instead of going stir-crazy on leave.

My Thoughts:

2 years is a long time. Since it happens between books it is really hard to accept and fathom. It doesn’t “feel” like 2 years so you’re just kind of left dangling and have to accept it as authorial fiat.

When I started this book I was pretty meh and wondered if my reading rotation had let me down. I really considered dropping this for a rotation and move on to the next book. Thankfully, I stuck to it and I was not let down. Once I got past the “Oh, it’s been 2 years and we’re going stir-crazy being on leave and leading a peaceful life” and things started happening, wham, it was game on. I loved the mirror image this was to Traitor General and seeing the Ghosts in a slightly more relaxed environment was fun.

I ALSO liked seeing how the Blood Pact insertion team worked and how their magic was conducted. When the Inquisition got involved I wasn’t sure what to expect, maybe a battle of Techno-Magics but whatever I was expecting, I did NOT see the ending coming, not by a long shot. It was great though!

Abnett continues to impress with his writing here. While not an indepth character study, he’s able to reveal new little tidbits that help flesh Gaunt out (hahahaa, get it? Flesh out, Gaunt? Never mind). The revelation that Gaunt could possibly have been Warleader of the Crusade was a real stunner for sure.

Overall, another thoroughly enjoyable entry in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Iron Star (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #11.5) ★★★☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot , Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Iron Star
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #11.5
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 58
Words: 10K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Set between the events of Only in Death and the forthcoming novel, Blood Pact, The Iron Star follows Colonel–Commissar Gaunt and the Tanith First and Only across an unknown and mysterious warzone. Here, they face the their old foes, the Blood Pact. But how are long–dead Ghosts able to fight at Gaunt’s side against the enemy, and who are the watchers? The key to it all lies in unravelling the mystery of the iron star.

This short story ends with Gaunt waking up from surgery after being rescued by the Tanith from the Blood Pact. He’d been tortured almost to death and only the efforts of the Ghosts keep him from crossing the bridge into death.

My Thoughts:

I knew this was a short story but for some reason I had completely forgotten that Gaunt had been taken by the forces of Chaos in “Only in Death”. So while I knew this was some sort of dream, I was pretty confused without the salient fact of HOW Gaunt was on death’s door.

I really should have read this immediately after Only in Death instead of waiting my usual time between books in a series. Abnett was aiming for the discombobulated, drugged out feeling and by george, he did an admirable of conveying just that. I was weirded out the whole time I was reading this.

For 58 pages I think these couple of sentences covers all that needs to be said.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Only In Death (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #11) ★★★✬☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot , Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Only In Death
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #11
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 237
Words: 100.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

On the fortress-world Jago, Lord-General Van Voytz addresses the Tanith First personally. He ‘asks’ the Ghosts to secure an empty stronghold to the east of Elikon, the central Imperial bastion on the planet. It is clear from the start that Gaunt resents these orders. After six days of marching through Jago’s desert-like terrain and enduring dust-storms, the Ghosts reach their objective: Hinzerhaus, dubbed the house at the end of the world.

As they attempt to secure the fortress, the Ghosts make numerous discoveries. There is no water source on site, the maps that they have been given of Hinzerhaus are inconsistent and incorrect, and strange echoes fill the halls. Many of the men become convinced that the place is haunted. These findings only cause more issues when the Blood Pact attempt to storm Hinzerhaus, and the Ghosts are forced to mount a defence against a superior foe. At the same time, strange apparitions begin to eat away at the courage and morale of the men…

The title of the novel is part of an old Imperial proverb; only in death does duty end. The beginning of each chapter opens with an extract from Commissar Viktor Hark’s field journal, which is written in a font which resembles handwriting. This style changes slightly at points when Nahum Ludd scribes on Hark’s behalf. The novel re-introduces Agun Soric, who was absent from the previous books in the ‘Lost’ arc.

The book ends with the Ghosts holding out until reinforcements arrive and it is revealed that all of the hauntings have been the result of one of the former Tanith Ghosts, now a chained up Psyker, trying to reach out to his old friends. He asks to be killed and Nahum Ludd, as the acting Commissar, fulfills the request.

My Thoughts:

If ever a book should have been an October/Halloween book, this was it. It was just filled with ghosts of the Ghosts, creepy old faceless women, wurms that grind through solid rock that only some of the Ghosts can hear and a general disquietude that conveyed an understated dread and painted everything bleak. It was perfect. For Halloween. For Pre-Christmas, it wasn’t nearly so good.

I still did enjoy this. The Ghosts continue to get ground up like hamburger, death is not only present but the only reality and the creatures of Chaos just keep on coming. Where do these creatures come from? I know some Chaos creatures are turned humans, but where do the rest of them come from? Where is “Planet Chaos”? If something exists and it can be killed, figure out what kills it and do it. Don’t fight the spread, fight the source. To me, WH40K has always been a bit weak on the where’s and whyfore’s of this kind of thing. Or it might just be that I’m not well read enough in this universe. This isn’t my Bible after all! 😀

Overall, this was another good entry in this series and I have no real complaints. It’s not the book’s fault that it should have been read in October, hahahahaaa.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Human (Polity: Rise of the Jain #3) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Human
Series: Polity: Rise of the Jain #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 402
Words: 159.5K



Synopsis:

Publishers Blurb and Me

A Jain warship has risen from the depths of space, emerging with a deadly grudge and a wealth of ancient yet lethal technology. It is determined to hunt down the alien Client, and will annihilate all those who stand in its way. So Orlandine must prepare humanity’s defense.

Both humanity and the Prador thought their ancient foe—the Jain—had perished in a past age. And they resolve to destroy these outliers at any cost. Orlandine wants the Client’s inside knowledge to act, but the Client has her own agenda. Earth Central therefore looks to the Prador for alliance, after the Jain destroy their fleet. However, not everyone is happy with this, and some will do anything to shatter this fragile coalition.

As the Jain warship makes its way across the galaxy, it seems unstoppable. Human and Prador forces alike struggle to withstand its devastating weaponry. Orlandine’s life work is to neutralize Jain technology, so if she can’t triumph, no one can.

Riker, the Hooper with Jain tech, takes on the Jain warship, believing that the only way to conquer the Jain is to subsume the ship. In the process, Riker becomes what he’s trying to subsume and he takes down Orlandine, now a Jain entity infesting an entire world. The Client was prepared for such an eventuality and prepared a weapon that the other Hooper, Cogulus, uses against Riker. It spreads out in a chain reaction, destroying all the jain connections.

The jain entity survives, but only its mostly dead body. It hides and begins building its strength for the millennia when the galaxy will have forgotten about it.

My Thoughts:

This was the longest book in the trilogy but Asher needed every page to wrap things up. I was concerned when I didn’t see a clear solution by the 75% mark. I was afraid he was going to pull some sort of shenanigans like some other authors, but thankfully, I shouldn’t have worried. And what’s more, the jain are still around to be the bogeyman if he ever needs it in the future. I like that.

The main reason this got a 4 star instead of higher, at least this time around, was because of Asher’s penchant to describe all the “stuff”. He really likes getting into the nitty gritty of what a starship looks like or how many and what kind of weapons it has and what they look like. And the techno-babble about communications and upgrades, etc, it was just a bit much for me this time around. I don’t think it was actually any more indepth than in previous books, but this time I just didn’t care.

The battles were awesome, as always. Asher has done a good job of keeping things interesting. There is always the danger of just making things bigger or badder or both but describing it in the same manner and thus losing your audience. I think he’s skirting that line in places but so far, I’m still interested. Part of that is the continued use of the Hoopers and the Spatterjay virus.

Now I have to wait for him to write some more, sigh. He’s written some standalone books before and I wouldn’t mind if he went that route for a couple of books instead of another trilogy. I guess only time will tell.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Armour of Contempt (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #10) ★★★☆½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Armour of Contempt
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #10
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 340
Words: 92K


Synopsis:

This is the story of the liberation of Gereon. The book starts out by introducing us to a new character, Dalin Criid, the adopted son of Tona. He’s going through training and the plan is for him to get into the Ghosts once he graduates.

The Ghosts, along with a bunch of others, are tasked to retake the planet Gereon. It turns out High Command thinks there is something special about Gereon that resists Chaos and they hope to discover what that is and to replicate it.

Dalin is not sent to the Ghosts and must endure his trial by fire with a lowly group of reject Guards. He survives but hears the voice of his adopted father Caffron several times giving him advice which saves his life.

The Ghosts are tasked with retaking a small village and establishing contact with the remnants of the Resistance. High Command then imprisons all of the resistance to test them for the ability to resist Chaos. There is nothing Gaunt can do. At the end of the book, when the Ghosts are leaving, the Resistance is spirited away by the remaining Ghost Resistance scout MkVenner and head off into the wilderness to hide and survive.

My Thoughts:

I think this was the grimmest Gaunt’s Ghosts book yet. Dalin being introduced as a character and his trying experience, we really get to see how the men in the trenches experience warfare. They’re cannon fodder, nothing else. We also get to experience a Commisar that is more typical than Gaunt. Both of these experiences make the reader realize just how unusual both the Ghosts and Gaunt are.

I guess this was a contrast book. So far the Ghosts series hasn’t been that grimdark and I’ve almost slid into thinking that maybe the Warhmmer40k Universe wasn’t that bad. This was a stark reminder that yes, it is a horrible place and even the supposed Good Guys aren’t really Good Guys, they’re just not as horrific as Chaos. Heck, if I was even a semi-powerful force I’d be trying to liberate my own corner to live in. Feth the Emperor and feth Chaos. In my system every child would have a pony, there would Free Pizza Friday every Friday, all the woman would wear long skirts, all the men would have curly beards and wear suspenders and we’d all sing Nordic’ish songs with lots of “j”s in the words.

But back to THIS book. Caffran dying at the end, at the hands of a terrified child, well, that just was the grimmest part. The person he was trying to save is the one who kills him seems to hold the very essence of what Warhmmer40k is all about. I’m just thankful all the books haven’t been like that and I hope the rest aren’t. We’ll see though.

★★★☆½

The Warship (Polity: Rise of the Jain #2) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Warship
Series: Polity: Rise of the Jain #2
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 350
Words: 138K



Synopsis:

Cobbled Together from Various Places

Orlandine has destroyed the alien Jain super-soldier by deploying an actual black hole. And now that same weapon hoovers up clouds of lethal Jain technology, swarming within the deadly accretion disc’s event horizon. All seems just as she planned. Yet behind her back, forces incite rebellion on her home world, planning her assassination.

Earth Central, humanity’s ruling intelligence, knows Orlandine was tricked into releasing her weapon, and fears the Jain are behind it. The prador king knows this too – and both foes gather fleets of warships to surround the disc.

The alien Client is returning to the accretion disc to save the last of her kind, buried on a ship deep within it. She upgrades her vast weapons platform in preparation, and she’ll need it. Her nemesis also waits within the disc’s swirling dusts – and the Jain have committed genocide before.

When the Clade, a swarm AI, assassinates multiple nodes of Orlandine’s consciousness, the Polity and the bellicose alien Prador Kingdom are alarmed and send armadas to the Jaskoran system. On Jaskor, Clade units cause further mayhem as they employ war and assassin drones to battle the no-longer-human (but still sympathetic) Captain Trike, who’s been overcome and made monstrous by the Spatterjay virus. Meanwhile, in the vicinity of the accretion disc, something mysterious is emerging from Underspace, and the Polity fears it’s a Jain ship.

In the end, Orlandine survives, the Jaskoran system is declared a 3rd party “empire” by both Polity and AI, Trike embraces his Spatterjay/Jain transformation, the Clade are dead and a fully deranged Jain Warship has escaped into the galaxy.

My Thoughts:

So, here is what I am finding with Asher’s books. I enjoy them pretty well on the first read through. It doesn’t really wow me or leaving me desperately wanting to read the next one but I enjoy it immensely and don’t feel cheated in any way, ie, time or money. However, any re-reads seem to get me past a barrier and I REALLY enjoy the books. Weird huh?

That was just a roundabout way of saying that this book was pretty good and I enjoyed it, but not as much as my previous Polity reads. In fact, my enjoyment of this new trilogy is following the exact same footprint as when I read the Transformation trilogy (which dealt with the black AI Penny Royal). I fully expect to enjoy it more the next time I do a Polity re-read.

One thing I am really liking about this trilogy is the inclusion of Spatterjay Hooper Old Captains and Prador. This time around, we also get a Prador vessel that is akin in size and power to the Cable Hogue, a legendary Polity vessel that has appeared in earlier books. We get to see a lot more how the spatterjay virus has and is changing the Prador leadership and making them into beings able to at least work with the Polity. I would not be surprised if in later books the Polity and Prador became a united Entity against an outside threat.

I also enjoyed Orlandine’s downfall. Asher does a great job of showing that a fallible being doesn’t stop having blindspots just because they are/become more intelligent. But at the same time, her fall doesn’t destroy her. It was good to see her pick the pieces back up and start fighting again.

★★★★☆

Hell Spawn (Saint Tommy, NYPD #1) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Hell Spawn
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #1
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 206
Words: 59K



Synopsis:

Tommy Nolan is a detective in New York City. With his wife and young son, Tommy lives within walking distance of his precinct offices. One day Tommy begins to experience some strange things, things he can’t really explain. But that all is washed away when a little girl is murdered right in Tommy’s neighborhood and the killer leaves a personal message for Tommy written in the girl’s blood. Then one of Tommy’s neighbors is murdered in the same fashion. The problem is, Tommy had talked to her on the phone, long after it was possible for her to be alive.

Turn’s out there’s a demon loose in New York City and it has teamed up with a psycho killer who is a discredited medical doctor. Discredited because he experimented on live victims without their consent. Tommy manages to put the perp in jail but the demon’s name is Legion and takes over many of the inmates and causes a riot that even the SWAT can’t put down. Possessed men aren’t too worried about a few paltry bullets or tear gas after all.

Tommy, after getting some backup from his local priest and all the surrounding priests, heads into the prison to confront the demon and exorcise it. He’s a man on a mission from God and begins to experience the powers that Saints throughout history have been recorded as having.

Exorcising the demon gets the prison under control, but Tommy’s life is forever changed as the demon reveals that Tommy has been chosen to be the Patron Saint of Detectives. While this situation has been dealt with, Tommy knows that a righteous man’s work isn’t finished while he has breath in his body.

My Thoughts:

First things first. On Amazon, right in the title, this bills itself as “A Catholic Action Horror Novel”. It certainly is. Considering how other urban fantasy series shove paganism down their readers’ throats without a second thought, I don’t see that being a problem though. Unless you’re a religious bigot that is.

Now, was that a great opening paragraph or what? I was aiming for abrasive and since I bristled at myself when I read it out loud to see how it sounded, I knew I had succeeded. But seriously folks, if you can deal with Dresden or the Iron Druid Chronicles or Jayne Yellowrock or that author Jim Hines, well, you should have zero problems with the views put forth here. Especially if you espouse tolerance as the mainstay of your beliefs.

I enjoyed this a lot. While I have my issues with specific doctrines of Catholicism and even with the whole “Saints” thing, thinking of this as a supernaturally powered cop worked just fine. And it helped that Tommy had to obey some really strict rules that had 1000’s of years of history behind them. Every ability exhibited was one that previous saints had shown, so Tommy isn’t simply pulling power out of his butt. The internal consistency was refreshing. Too many times the rules of urban fantasy seem to get made up as the author goes along, or to not really have any rules beyond “it’s supernatural, we just don’t understand”. While the rules are being revealed to us as readers, they have a deep and abiding history backing them up.

One word of caution however. This is graphic in terms of violence. Finn doesn’t shy away from describing in detail just how the demon possessed man kills his victims. It is really horrific. What is even more horrific is when it is revealed what those killings are based on in real life.

Another thing I did like was the whole family dynamic. Tommy and his wife aren’t having drama to ratchet up the tension. She’s the wife of a cop and knows what that entails. Tommy is teaching his son krav maga so he can defend himself and to help others who are being bullied. His son isn’t a psycho emo goth whatever who Tommy is trying to “connect” with. Tommy is being the dad that every dad should be. It was just great to see a main character being in a stable family. They helped each other instead of draining each other.

Overall, I was very pleased with this read and am looking forward to more in the series. I believe there are currently 7. I know that Finn has also authored several other series. One of them falls squarely into the paranormal romance category though, so even if it too gets the “A Catholic Action Horror Novel” I’ll be avoiding it like the plague.

★★★★☆