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SERIES: The Dead Man
VOLUME/TITLE: #1/Face of Evil
AUTHOR: Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin
OPENING LINES:February 19, 2011. In the few minutes before Barney Slezak recorded the gruesome YouTube video that would draw more than a million hits, winning him and his family an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles to be on Jimmy Kimmel's show, he was thinking about how much he hated snow.
CLOSING LINES: And with that, Matthew Cahill walked out the door and down the road, chasing the receding echo of Mr. Dark's twisted laughter wherever it might lead him.
One of the biggest problems with getting hooked on men's adventure novels a good twenty or thirty years after they peaked in popularity is that it can be difficult – and sometimes pricey – to pick up a series from the beginning. Oh sure, you can grab fistfuls of adventure for 25 cents a pop at your local flea market or thrift shop, but you're often dropped into the midst of a series, wondering just how this guy you're reading about became a Death Merchant, a Protector or a one-eyed mercenary.
Though some series, like The Destroyer, have made it easy for fans and newbies to get started thanks to things like selected "best of" volumes or dirt-cheap ebooks, be prepared to shell out more than flea market prices if you want to read the first few adventures of Mack Bolan.
The ability to get in on the ground floor, so to speak, was but one of the things that attracted me about The Dead Man books, a new series created by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin (action fiction vets and writers of the popular MONK and PSYCH novels, respectively). Not only could I start at the beginning and keep pace, but good pal and kindred spirit David Zuzelo assured me that the tales of Matt Cahill would dovetail nicely with both the Summer of ACTION! and my horror-loving side.
FACE OF EVIL introduces us to Matt Cahill, one of the luckiest – or unluckiest – men alive. I supposed it depends on your point of view. After a skiing accident leaves him buried under a mountain of snow and presumed dead, Cahill rejoins the human race when his body is discovered by a family that I'm sure will spend the rest of their vacations in a warm, sunny climate.
Not surprisingly, the time spent locked in his icy tomb has left Matt with an unwelcome skill – he can literally see the bad in people. And when he sees it he really sees it – soulless eyes, rotting flesh and boiling skin are just a few of the ways the evil manifests itself as Cahill attempts to return to the life he led before the accident.
Complicating matters are the presence of Mr. Dark – a shadowy figure who haunts Cahill at every turn – and the fact that Cahill's best friend appears to be falling prey to the evil that's tearing away at him from the inside.
If you're anything like me – a card-carrying HorrorDadTM who fits in his reading time between pre-school drop-off/pick-up, meals, swim lessons, exercising, grocery store trips and the like – FACE OF EVIL (and the other Dead Man books I'll be reviewing soon) gets my highest recommendation. The book is short and fast-paced, but never feels rushed, and you'll find yourself looking for any excuse to bang out the next chapter.
And, like an adaptation of the greatest tv show that's not on the air, the end will leave you wanting more. NOW!