The Dead Man: The Beast Within

Author: James Daniels
Publisher: 47 North
Published: 2011
Book No: 7

It’s been a while since I have reviewed any of The Dead Man series. I am up to book number seven, The Beast Within, written by James Daniels (who also wrote Ring of Knives). This one has been out quite a while, and I must admit I went to Amazon and read the reviews (hopefully not sock-puppeted), to see what readers had to say. The general consensus appeared to be that this was the weakest of The Dead Man series and could be skipped over.

But as regular visitors to P2K, who have read my reviews of trash exploitation cinema, would know, I am a lover of the unloved. The negative reviews only made me want to read it more. I mean, how bad could it be?

Sadly for me (or gleefully for others), The Beast Within was fine – nothing wrong with it at all. Sure, it branches off and tries something new. Mr. Dark isn’t really in the story – but his presence is well and truly felt. And the story opens up a whole new world of possibilities for The Dead Man series. It implies Matt Cahill’s journey to discover the secret of his power, and his running battle with Mr.Dark, is just the tip of a dark magical underworld that spans the globe.

On top of that, you get the usual mayhem – this time, evil white supremacists, rampaging bears, dangling from a chairlift, exploding trucks, flaming crossbows – of course a damsel in distress – and Cahill’s usual axe wielding form of justice. No complaints from me.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Fire and Ice, by Jude Hardin.

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The Dead Man: The Beast Within

The Dead Man: Kill Them All

Author: Harry Shannon
Publisher: 47 North
Published: November 2011
Book No: 6

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Dead Man adventure on this site. This is not because I have stopped reading them, but as many of you would be aware the Dead Man series has been picked up by Amazon and is now published under their new 47North sf-horror-fantasy imprint. This caused a slight delay in the publishing schedule.The first five adventures, Face of Evil, Ring of Knives, Hell in Heaven, The Dead Woman and The Blood Mesa have all been republished – and for those who want to catch up in one fell swoop, rather than reading the stories piecemeal, I think they have been collected into an anthology too.

Matt Cahill goes west. After the delay, it’s great to have The Dead Man series rolling again, and I welcomed back Matthew Cahill eagerly. But, the thing is Kill Them All is not one of the strongest books in The Dead Man series so far. Now let me explain this – or at least how I see it. Firstly, I’ll state that I enjoyed the book, but I think the plot was not really suitable for Dead Man length novel. So far, The Dead Man stories have been around 25,000 words (or about 80 pages), and stating the obvious, in a story that short, you have to keep the pace moving. And Harry Shannon does this, especially in the last half, where the story rockets along. But his plot, and pardon the lazy comparison, is a cross between High Noon, and an old fashioned western where the good guys are trapped in a fort, surrounded by marauding Indians. What we have is our hero, Matt Cahill is trapped in a small town, where a team of mercenaries are coming to get him. Now for that to work, you have to develop the characters in the township, and build up the suspense – both of these things take time.

And that is the high-wire act, author Harry Shannon sets for himself. Character and suspense against fast and furious thrills. And to be fair, I think Shannon proves he can manage both. He starts by weaving some interesting characters and relationships and building a story. But then it stops suddenly, and for the climax, the story has to present the type of bat-shit insane, axe-wielding thrills and chills that The Dead Man stories have built a reputation on (hey, I am not complaining!). And that is where this story falls down. It seems like a big chunk of the middle is missing, and the individual characters of the townsfolk have not been developed enough. There’s a passage (and a minor spoiler ahead) where one of the townsfolk is shot and killed. It should be a defining moment in the story, suggesting that the townsfolk are in for a real battle, and this time Matt Cahill is in deep, deep trouble. But because the character hasn’t been defined, his death is meaningless, and therefore the flow on to Cahill’s character doesn’t have the impact it should.

Now it is easy to be an armchair critic and say negative things. But I like to balance things out. I think the plot for this Dead Man story was a good idea, but one that deserved a longer treatment. And as The Dead Man series is clearly inspired by the men of action stories of the ‘70s and ‘80s, I think juxtaposing the series against The Executioner at this stage may be appropriate. As The Executioner fans know, there are two Mac Bolan series running concurrently. Firstly, your regular series, with tight fast paced books that come in at around 150 pages. But then there’s the Super Bolans which are longer (and better). The authors get a chance to put some flesh on the bones of their characters. And here too, I think we should have got a ‘Super Dead Man’ (or would it be a ‘Super Cahill’?). This would have given Shannon the opportunity to deliver the story that he promises at the beginning of Kill Them All.

But please, just because, in this review, I have concentrated on what is essentially a minor niggle, don’t assume that you will not enjoy Kill Them All. It serves up all the goodies you have come to expect from this series – head lopping, weird medical procedures, gunfights, rotting bodies and the never-ending quest to hunt down the elusive Mr. Dark. In summary, a good time had by all and sundry – and at the time of writing it is only 99c on Kindle. Welcome back Matt Cahill.

Kill Them All is available, naturally enough, from Amazon.

As well as being an author, Harry Shannon has had an extensive career in the music industry, contributing a song ‘Love Letters’ to the Aces: Iron Eagle 3 soundtrack, and lyrics to ‘Some Day Soon’ from the conspiracy thriller, The Domino Principal, starring Gene Hackman.

The Dead Man: Kill Them All

The Dead Man: The Blood Mesa

Author: James Reasoner
Publisher: Adventure in Television
Published: July 2011
Book No: 5

This month’s instalment in The Dead Man series is The Blood Mesa by James Reasoner and a bloody good read it is too – with the emphasis on the word ‘blood’ – but you knew that from the title, didn’t you?

For those who have read any or all of The Dead Man series (and I urge you all to do so), you’ll be familiar with the lead character Matthew Cahill; his ongoing quest to find the elusive Mr. Dark; and his preferred weapon in his fight against evil – his trusty axe. So when an entry in the series is called The Blood Mesa – and is set at an archeological site, certain expectations are bound to form in your mind. They did in mine. So my evaluation of this story is based purely on whether my expectations were met. And they were – and in an extremely entertaining fashion. At the risk of using lazy comparisons, this story is the bastard child of an old Hammer Horror film (or maybe Raiders of the Lost Ark) and The Night of the Living Dead.

Normally I write a brief synopsis, or outline the introduction to the story in my reviews. Generally I believe it helps lead readers into the type of story they are going to get. However, I will refrain on this occasion because unlike other entries in The Dead Man series, The Blood Mesa doesn’t offer too many twists and turns, and most astute readers will know exactly where the story is heading. The joy comes from, not only a story that delivers what it promises, but told at such pace that it will leave most readers breathless. This story is the literary equivalent to a drag strip race, with the title page being the starting line, and the first paragraph being the green light. From its opening, the story keeps accelerating until its brutal climax. That truly is its strength – it’s rapid fire pace and its unflinching brutality (which you’ve got to expect from a series featuring an axe wielding hero).

As we are now at the fifth book in The Dead Man series, the creators Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, and the roster of writers may have painted themselves into a corner. The series has been of such a high standard that I keep expecting a misstep or at the very least, a rehash of something that has gone before. So far they have avoided that pitfall, and author James Reasoner keeps the flag flying high with an entry that is unlike others in the series, but still manages to utilise the established tropes, and is damned entertaining to boot. Next up in the series is Kill Them All by Harry Shannon – and he has inherited a tough job. Can he serve up something new, yet retain the flavour of the series? I can’t wait till next month to find out!

The Dead Man: The Blood Mesa is available from Amazon (and the usual outlets).

To visit James Reasoner’s blogsite, Rough Edges, click here.
To visit The Dead Man website, click here.

The Dead Man: The Blood Mesa

The Dead Man: The Dead Woman

The Dead WomanAuthor: David McAfee
Publisher: Adventures in Television
Published: June 2011
Based on characters created by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin
Book No: 4

It’s a new month and time for the next installment in The Dead Man series – this entry is entitled The Dead Woman, and it is written by David McAfee. With a new writer to the series, there is also a new voice – or tone if you prefer – to this story. This entry doesn’t have the sly humour or cynicism of the Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin penned entries, nor does it have the spine-tingling style of James Daniels Ring of Knives. Instead it is more intriguing, and reveals a fraction more of ‘The Dead Man’ mythos. It also sets up a plot deviation that could bring quite a bit of fun in future entries … by fun, I of course, mean blood-stained mayhem!

As the story starts, Matthew Cahill steps off a bus in the town of Crawford, Tennessee. From his first moments in the town, as police sirens wail, he can tell that is not going to be all beer and skittles, as there is a serial killer on the loose and the whole town is on edge. But Cahill needs some work to earn some money to put a motel roof over his head and finance his travels as he continues to search for answers and the elusive Mr. Dark.

An advert steers Cahill to Abbey’s Antiques which is run by – funnily enough – a woman named Abbey. Business is bad, and she is closing down and needs a hand to move the inventory to a storage facility. Cahill gets the job and goes to work. Incidentally, Abbey’s mother was the first victim of the serial killer – so as the story moves along, you can be sure that before the end of the story, Cahill is going to find himself face-to-face with the killer.

After a long day of hard physical work, Cahill and Abbey go to a bar for a meal, and as they eat, Cahill spies and man named Brad walking past with a rotting face – which regular readers of the Dead Man series will know means that this gent is about to do something pretty nasty. Further complicating matters, Cahill notices Mr. Dark sitting at the bar.

To Cahill’s mind, there is no doubt that Mr. Dark has ‘infected’ Brad, and no good can come of it, so Cahill chases him out of the bar and follows him to a house – but it’s not Brad’s house. It’s a house where the his wife is shacked up with a another man. And now he is looking for bloody revenge. Matt intervenes. At the end of the siege, Abbey turns up and Cahill is curious to how she found him. She explains that she followed Cahill because she knew that something bad was going to happen. When pressed she reveals that when somebody is going to commit an evil act, she can see their flesh rot – just like Cahill. So she is The Dead Woman to Cahill’s The Dead Man.

Meeting Abbey provides Cahill with a great opportunity to learn more about himself and his condition but before any of this can happen, Abbey’s ex-husband, Dale Everett, who happens to be an extremely jealous police officer starts throwing his weight around, and making Cahill’s stay in Crawford rather unpleasant.

The Dead Woman in some ways is the least action packed of the series. Don’t get me wrong, there are passages of action, and Cahill gets to swing his axe, but this story’s strength lies in different areas. Firstly, there’s a sense of awe and wonder that there is another ‘Dead’ person like Cahill (of course there was Jesse Watson in Ring of Knives, but Watson wasn’t like Cahill). Author David McAfee teases out Abbey’s back story, never fully explaining how she in fact became The Dead Woman.

Next there’s a focus on deception and manipulation – naturally, some of this is perpetrated by Mr. Dark, who has a bigger role in this story – but much of the subterfuge is perpetrated by major and minor characters alike. I’ll refrain from going into this further, who’s doing what to whom, as it would constitute a major spoiler. Some of the twists are easy to spot, and some are not.

For those who are simply after quick thrills, then The Dead Woman could be considered the weakest book in the series. However, if you are a regular reader, then this book is a core book – possibly more important than the second and third stories – as it really delves into what it means to be ‘The Dead Man’ or ‘The Dead Woman’ as the case may be. And as such this insight should prove essential in the ongoing adventures of Cahill.

The Dead Woman is available now from Amazon and the usual outlets.

The Dead Man: The Dead Woman

The Dead Man: Hell in Heaven

Hell in HeavenAuthors: Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin
Publisher: Adventures in Television
Published: May 2011
Book No: 3

The year is absolutely rocketing by, and it’s time once again for the next installment of The Dead Man. If you haven’t been reading the series, now is a good time to jump on board, because the first book, Face of Evil, has been reduced to a measly 99 cents at Amazon(for Kindle).

Hell in Heaven, is the third book in the series, and sees the return of Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin to the driver seat, after book two, Ring of Knives was penned by James Daniels.

So what paranormal mayhem does Matthew Cahill find himself involved in this time? The story starts with Matt continuing his search, on a motorcycle, for the elusive Mr. Dark. But so far, he has found neither hide nor hair of him – and that’s beginning to wear on his nerves. On the highway, he sees an off ramp that leads to a small village named Heaven.

Matt decides that Heaven is possibly the perfect place for ‘The Dead Man’ to rest and regroup, and think of a better strategy for locating Mr. Dark. The thing is though, that Matt has never been to Heaven before, and doesn’t quite realise what he is in for.

At first glance, Heaven looks like the type of town that hasn’t changed in one-hundred years – which in this day and age is kind of creepy. But what is even more creepy, as Matt rides into town, is that a banner has been strung across the main street which reads ‘Welcome home, Matt’.

But the sign isn’t for Matt Cahill. It’s intended as a welcome for a soldier named Matt Delaney, who has been recently discharged. But as Matt’s features are hidden by a motorcycle helmet, the townsfolk are not to know who he is and rush out to greet him.

Once the townsfolk realise their error, they return to their homes and their lives. There and then, Matt decides that Heaven is not the place for him, and prepares to leave, but just before he goes, an old woman grabs him by the arm and whispers, ‘help us!’

Matt agrees to stay and help, but Heaven is not your average backwoods town, and he finds himself caught in the middle of a Hatfields vs the McCoys style power struggle – that is, Hatfields vs the McCoys via John Boorman’s Deliverance (without the banjos), and with a dab of The Wicker Man thrown in for good measure. Matt finds himself enmeshed in quite a surreal adventure. Thankfully, he has on hand his grandfather’s axe, and when in doubt…, well sometimes it just best to come out swinging!

Those who have read the first two installments of The Dead Man series, myself included, have been waiting for Matt to start wielding the axe. The axe has already established itself as a symbol for The Dead Man character – look at the logotype on the book cover above – and as such, it’s time for it to take centre stage. And here, Matt starts chopping, not just wood, but at some of the things that go bump in the night. However, despite his affinity for the axe, initially he is not as confident as you might think. Matt is still pretty much human – an everyman – so his first foray into the world of fighting the forces of darkness with his preferred weapon, certainly cannot be compared to the fluid, muscular hacking displayed by Conan the Barbarian (although Conan is named-checked a few times in the story).

Hell in Heaven, once again is a brisk entry in the series, and I am pleased to report that the story didn’t go anywhere that I predicted. After the first two installments, in my head, I thought I had figured out the formula and the pattern the series would take, but this sort of threw me (which is good!) If the series keeps presenting stories as deliciously unpredictable as this (but obviously within the boundaries already established), then I can see myself continuing to read and enjoy The Dead Man’s adventures.

The spiel:

The sign on the exit reads “Heaven.” What better place could there be for a dead man to visit? But when Matt takes the ramp, he finds a banner welcoming him by name to a tiny town seemingly left behind by the 21st century… and waiting for him to rescue it. But when he agrees to save Heaven’s citizens from a coming terror, he discovers that evil has more faces than he could ever imagine – and good is far more complicated than he ever dreamed.

Hell in Heaven is available from today (May 4) on the Kindle, as a trade paperback, and on the Nook., and other online retailers. Next up will be The Dead Woman, by David McAfee (of which two teaser chapters are included with Hell in Heaven).

The Dead Man: Hell in Heaven

The Dead Man: Ring of Knives

The Dead Man - Ring of KnivesAuthor: James Daniels
Publisher: Adventures in Television
Published: April 2011
Based on characters created by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin
Book No: 2

Last month, I reviewed Face of Evil, which was the first in a new series of e-books, that have their roots in the ‘Men of Action’ stories that were popular in the ’70s and ’80s. Ring of Knives is the second book in the series, based on characters created by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin. Taking the helm for this entry is James Daniels.

When I talked about Face of Evil, I briefly talked about Clint Eastwood and Dirty Harry, and just to be predictable, I am going to talk about Eastwood again, but this time I am going to look at Pale Rider. While I enjoy Pale Rider, I have to admit that it is one of Eastwood’s weaker films. My disappointment in it stems from the fact that it is almost a carbon copy of Shane. Shane is undoubtedly a classic, and in my opinion, it is one of the finest examples of ‘The Stranger’ archetype (sometimes also known as ‘The Drifter’) in popular culture. Pale Rider doesn’t quite work, but the story elements are all in place. Eastwood, as the Preacher rides into town and ends up helping a ramshackle band of miners fight of a large disreputable mining company.

The Shane formula has been used time and time again in movies, not only in Eastwood’s Pale Rider. Off the top of my head I can think of Malone with Burt Reynolds and Nowhere to Run with Jean Claude Van Damme as other examples. However, where the formula has best been put to work is in countless television series. In these shows, The Stranger drifts from town to town, generally just trying to stay out of trouble, and ends up befriending some innocent townsfolk who are too weak to defend themselves from bullies. Mayhem ensues. I could cite many shows, but the ones that stand out most in my mind are Kung Fu, with David Carridine and The Hulk with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. And it is right that I should talk about television shows, as The Dead Man series began its life as a concept for a proposed television show. The show never went into production, but writers Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin thought that the idea was too good to go to waste, and have retooled it for this series, inviting some talented and successful mystery, western, horror and sci-fi authors, including Bill Crider, James Reasoner, Matt Witten, Joel Goldman, Burl Barer and David McAfee, to contribute to the project.

So there’s a bit of ‘The Stranger’ in Matthew Cahill, the hero of The Dead Man series, and this, the second entry, ‘The Stranger’ pattern begins to materialise. But there is far more to Cahill than just being a do-gooder who travels around righting wrongs. He has his own problems to sort out, and his journeys are solely for him to find out more about himself and the strange occurrences and visions that have become a regular part of his life.

When we left Face of Evil, Matthew Cahill’s life had changed dramatically. He had killed his best friend, and wasn’t sure if the visions that he sees – he sees evil people or those with malicious intent with festering sores – were a gift like a super-power, or if he was losing his mind. Neither was he sure where Mr. Dark fitted into the scheme of things. Was he really a malignant evil clown, who caused chaos and destruction and brought misery to the world, or was he too a part of Cahill’s madness.

So Cahill is seeking answers, and he thinks he may find some at the Carthage Medical Center where he has arranged to meet with one of the patients, named Jesse Watson, who is under the care of Dr. Dindren. It appears that Watson, after a spelunking accident, claims that he has visions of rotting flesh on people with evil intent. Naturally, Cahill believes that Watson’s story parallels his own, and if Watson had been cured, then there just may be hope for him too.

But upon arrival at Carthage, Cahill finds that Watson has been transferred and Dr. Dindren no longer works at the center. But Dindren is still at the center. The key word is ‘works’. Dindren is now a resident at Carthage. With some assistance from a foul-mouthed nurse named Maloria, Cahill contrives a plan to get to Dindren and find out what he knows, but Dindren is not quite the man he used to be. And Carthage is certainly not run like any other insane asylum. Cahill finds himself trapped inside and fighting for his life.

Earlier I talked about ‘The Stranger’ and how Matthew Cahill appears to be fitting into that character mold. In this story, at Carthage, Cahill had several opportunities to simply walk away. But instead, he chose to help other people – in particular a patient named Annica, who is a young girl, who is constantly set upon by both the male patients and staff. Cahill’s actions make him a fine avenger – and a good example of ‘The Stranger’ archetype.

The promo spiel:

Matt believes a madman may hold the secret to defeating Mr. Dark, the horrific jester with the rotting touch. But to reach him, Matt must infiltrate an asylum, where he is soon caught up in a spiral of bloodshed and madness. His only chance of escaping with his life and sanity intact is to face the unspeakable terror that awaits him deep in the asylum’s fog-shrouded woods…within the Ring of Knives.

Ring of Knives is a fine addition to the on-going story of The Dead Man, but – and as you would expect from a story written by a different author, it is very different in tone from Face of Evil. Ring lacks the humour of the first book, but in its stead Daniels has added some genuine tension and blood-curdling passages. There is a torture scene in the story, that Ian Fleming would have been proud of. Also, the ending to Ring, isn’t such a such a tease like it’s predecessor, so it is more like a complete stand-alone story.

All in all, Ring of Knives is very enjoyable, and suitably creepy. I guess now, all I have to do is wait another month for the next installment. Ring of Knives is available from today (April 4) at Amazon.

The Dead Man: Ring of Knives

The Dead Man: Face of Evil

Authors: Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin
Publisher: Adventures in Television
Published: February 2011
Book No: 1

This novella is not a spy story, but the story has its roots in the ‘Men of Action’ stories that were popular in the ’70s and ’80s – and many of them were spy stories. But first, I want to talk to you about ‘Dirty Harry’. When I was growing up I was a big fan of Dirty Harry. In fact I discovered Harry twice. The first time was when I was a young teenager, then later as an old teenager.

The first instance was before video really took off in Australia. Back in the early 1980’s television censorship Down Under was very severe. We had what they called AO MOD TV movies – standing for Adults Only Modified for Television. Well the censors worked overtime on Dirty Harry, cutting out whole scenes and great chunks on dialogue. It is a testament to the strength of the movie that despite the removal of the violence and swearing, it was still a bloody good film. The cuts obviously diluted Dirty Harry from how it was originally intended to be seen, but in others ways opened up the film to a new youthful audience.

Four or five years later and I finally got to see an uncut version of Dirty Harry, and if you’ll forgive the Harryesque wordplay, I was blown away. But between that time I actually encountered Harry again. Not the filmic Harry as portrayed by Clint Eastwood, but the ‘Men of Action’ book series written by Dane Hartman (I think my first was one of the latter ones in the series Dealer of Death). I bring up the fact that my first filmic encounter with Harry was cut, because the books were extremely graphic, which delighted me no end. I do believe they were the series that taught me the word ‘viscera’. With the hindsight of twenty-five plus years, I realise the Dirty Harry series was trash…but I enjoyed it so. They were my ‘Men of Action’ series…the one I latched onto.

The thing is, if you grew up in that era, without all the video games, computer, ipods etc., then most likely to escape you read, and adolescent males read ‘Men of Action’ books. And there were heaps of them to chose from, Mack Bolan as The Executioner, Remo Williams as The Destroyer, The Black Samurai, The Specialist, The Hunter, The Penetrator and many many others. I am sure many of you have your favourite. You could always tell a ‘Men of Action’ book by the number on the cover – they were always numbered, hoping you’d keep along with the series.

Men of Action
‘Men of Action’ books

The old ‘Men of Action’ books are all but extinct now – of course you can find them in second hand shops, but possibly younger generations have replaced them with video games, which provide them with more immediately thrills. I for one, kind of miss them. But it seems that I am not alone. Thankfully, a group of talented authors are coming together in a project aimed at reviving the spirit of the ‘Men of Action’ books in a new e-book series. The series is called The Dead Man, and the first book is Face of Evil written by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin. But this new series isn’t just retreading old ground, or presenting more of the same. The story tellers have added a paranormal, horror element into the mix. So Face of Evil presents a story in a style that you may be familiar with, but mixed with some other elements to bring the reader something new.

However, here’s my first little gib, and I know it’s an e-book, but in keeping with the ‘Men of Action’ ethos, it should have a big No. 1 on the cover to signify that it is the first in the series. Oh, and a guy with a gun… and maybe a girl in bikini. They don’t need to be in the story… heaven knows most of the old series promised more with their cover artwork than we actually got!

I know I am being superficial, but hey, I’m a traditionalist! The story concerns Matthew Cahill, who has been a widower for many years, and works in a saw mill. After many years on his own, Cahill looks like he is about to enter into a new relationship with a co-worker named Rachel. But this budding relationship is cut short, when one afternoon as they are skiing, an avalanche takes Cahill’s life. Or does it? After three months of being buried in the snow, his body is found and taken to the morgue. But as the coroner attempts to perform his autopsy he notices a very strange thing. As he cuts into the corpse, he notices that it is bleeding. Dead men don’t bleed.

So how does Matthew Cahill stand up as a ‘Men of Action’ hero? I think the jury still has to be out on that. Cahill has the potential to be a fascinating and thoroughly entertaining hero. He is in this story. But Face of Evil is somewhat of a ‘Beginnings’ story, which charts how Cahill becomes ‘The Dead Man’ and suggests the path that he is going to take. And I must admit I am eager to see where this path leads. So is he a great ‘Men of Action’ hero? He could be. Time will tell.

If there is a weakness to the story, it was in the horror aspects to the story. By nature I am squeamish kind of fellow, but the horror elements here didn’t have me chewing my nails, or have my heart racing. However, the thriller, and comedy – very dark comedy I will add – is first rate. I found myself laughing out loud on a few occasions (which is always embarrassing when you’re on a train).

Here’s the spiel about The Dead Man series:

Matthew Cahill is an ordinary man leading a simple life…until a shocking accident changes everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld of unspeakable evil and horrific violence that nobody else does…

For Cahill, each day is a journey into a dark world he knows nothing about…a quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become…and a fight to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil.

FACE OF EVIL, the first book in the series, was written by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin and will be released on February 20th, to be followed in coming months by more all-new adventures of THE DEAD MAN by some of the most talented and successful mystery, western, horror and scifi authors out there today, including Bill CriderJames Reasoner, Matt Witten, Joel Goldman, James Daniels, Burl Barer and David McAfee.

Face of Evil
Faux Cover - 'Face of Evil' as a retro style 'Men of Action' book

Please forgive the clumsy faux cover art (right) I have created for Face of Evil. The simple fact is I was just having a bit of fun. So too, I think that the authors who have come together for The Dead Man project are having a bit of fun (although on the strength of Face of Evil, I would suggest their story telling ability is stronger than my artistic aspirations). The enjoyment, most evident in the in-jokes, is palpable when reading the story. Of course, I cannot know exactly what the authors were thinking when they wrote this story, but a part of me expects that it may not have seemed like work at all. The story races by at a brisk rate of knots, each twist and turn, and shift in time providing another revelation as the story moves towards its… well, I was going to say ‘end’, but that really is misleading. For now I will say ‘close’, but sure to be picked up in book two.

Face of Evil is only a novella, around 80 pages, which creates its own little duel edged sword. In many ways, I was happy that it was short, as the twists had me eager to know whats happens next. Therefore, I could finish the book in one sitting, rather than pressing on into the wee small hours and turning up to work bleary eyed the next morning. On the flip slide, I was enjoying it so much, I didn’t want it to end so abruptly. I guess I have to wait for the next installment in The Dead Man series.

The Dead Man: Face of Evil