Top positive review
on 29 February 2012
Before I say anything about the content of "Dead Harvest" I'd like to compliment the terrific cover - complete with printed grime - which reminded me of the classic Penguin crime of the 1950s or 60s (though those were green - perhaps copyright wouldn't allow that!). It really does look like a well read paperback you might pick up at a jumble sale or in a second hand bookshop.
But what about the story? I was in two minds here.
On the positive side, it's an absorbing story of supernatural evil colliding with two very different lives - Sam, the Collector of the subtitle, whose role is to harvest souls and send them somewhere rather warm, and Kate, Sam's latest "commission", who's suspected of slaughtering her family.
Something is wrong, and nobody - be they demon or angel - will give Sam straight answer. As a concept, this transplant of the down at heel PI to a supernatural setting must be a winner, especially when - as in the second half of the book - the story proceeds with almost non stop action and leads to a satisfying and thrilling conclusion.
However, I was less sure about the first part, which seemed a bit slow to get going, and rather weighed down by explanations. Given the peculiar nature of the setup, Holm obviously needs to get across to the reader the abilities (and limitations) of his Collectors, demons, angels and other participants but for me, the flow is broken rather too often by scenes where Kate says "But why can't you just do [whatever]" and Sam then takes a page or two saying just why. Especially when some of these rules seem fairly arbitrary.
Once all this has been established, things do, as I said, move on a lot more quickly and it does all begin to make sense, of a sort, so I wouldn't want to make too much of this. It's a promising start to a series, and I was especially taken by the way that Holm weaves Sam's life history into his current predicament, making him a character who seems pyschologically (and theologically!) credible.
Overall, very enjoyable, if I could I might rate this 3 and a half stars rather than 4 but I still regard that as a good rating, especially for a first book. I'm looking forward to the next book, of which an extract is included.