DEAD JACK and the Soul Catcher
By James Aquilone
Occasionally publishers will solicit a review of a book by sending out pre-press galleys. Then if the reviewer does deliver a positive report, they will lift a phrase from that and slap on the cover of the actual book. Which is what was done with this title, the quote being credited to writer Jonathan Maberry and it reads, “Wicked Fun!” Honestly, those two words are the most accurate descriptions of this novel imaginable. It is very, very much, wicked fun from start to finish. Alas, my job here his done. Bye.
Obviously not the case as we do have an obligation to fill you in on a bit more details about this particular title and the why behind that pithy applause. Forgive us, Mr. Maberry for being a bit more verbose.
During World War II, Nazis experimenting with occult artifacts opened a rift into an alternate dimension and many of them, including their American prisoners, ended up being trapped there. They soon discovered it was a dark version of New York City and its five boroughs and called it Pandemonium; a world filled with all the nightmares known to mankind from ghouls, ghosts, vampires, werewolves and a few brain eating zombies. Among these walking dead is Jack, a private eye looking for his soul taken from him by the head Nazis scientist Ratzinger. In the first book, Jack and his small sidekick, a homunculus named Oswald, stopped a madman from re-opening the rift that would have allowed the horrors of Pandemonium to invade “normal” Earth. But in the process, Oswald was left in a catatonic state with Jack unsure if the little guy was alive or not.
As this second tale begins, Jack learns the Nazis are at it again building a machine that will steal all the remaining human souls in Pandemonium. Convinced by an old friend that it is his duty to stop them, Jack sets out to learn the location of this weapon while at the same time trying to find a way to revive Oswald. He recruits a kooky wizard named Wally and a tough-as-nails, hammer wielding witch-fairy named Zara and off they go through the bizarre wilds of Pandemonium to save the day.
James Aquilone’s writing leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. His characters are unique and absolutely hilarious. His pacing is incredible with nary a dull moment throughout the story. Action, suspense and so much black humor, we found ourselves often laughing aloud. “Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher,” is that rarity among book series in that it is even better than the first book. One can only wonder what goodies Mr. Aquilone will surprise us with when the next chapter arrives. Personally, we can’t wait.