Posts Tagged ‘Damnation Books

16
Mar
12

The Killer Awoke Before Dawn

Before you read the following review, I want to tell you that Michael Faust, the sequel is expected to be released in June. I spoke with Jeremy Kline a month ago for a brief moment. I’m excited to see what the sequel looks like. Lazarus Cane was a very fun read.

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Those of you who frequent the Shortbus know I love disclaimers. So, here we go with a whole list of them.

1) Although author Jeremy Kline and I have the same publisher, neither D.B. nor Mr. Kline had asked me to write this, (and both would rather I not write about them, given the bad reputation of the Shortbus to Hell.)

2) I am not a book reviewer, I am a creative writer. If I read a book and it moved me to write a creative piece about it, I will tell all – the good, bad, and ugly. (I will review books for authors after establishing a relationship, meaning only after I’ve abused them at least once, and they want more – except Chuck. You’re no longer welcome on my bus and have been kicked to the curb.)

3) I buy all my books, and I’m talking paperbacks, not e-books. Meaning — I paid for my opinion.

4) For once I didn’t have to steal; Jeremy Kline released this picture of his book-cover to me without fore-knowledge of my lack of style.

Now, let the beatings begin!

Here is a very brief depiction of the novel, Lazarus Cane.

A doppleganger (AKA mimic, AKA shapeshifter) is hunting down serial killers in the US and killing them. But, a shadow-organization similar to the FBI is hunting Scott Cane, who is the doppleganger. This is a thriller with sci-fi adaptations.

Lazarus Cane begins with a bit of lesbian action. Hot lesbian action, and tastefully done. It got my attention, but my initial feeling was that it was just a gimmick. But wait…

Let me back up a couple paces, I had just thrown away Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted after reading the first hundred and seven pages of ‘what the hell do you call this?’ I promise I will never read another of Chuck’s books – I am so done with you dude.

So when I started Jeremy Kline’s book I was still holding some residual apathy after Chuck’s junk. It took fifty pages before remembering that I wasn’t reading mass-market garbage, and by page eighty I knew Lazarus Cane was going to be a satisfying read.

The lesbian scene in the beginning turned out to be very important to the creation of all the characters in this book. All of them were very identifiable and easy to accept – all of them – even the bad guys. It turns out that Jeremy Kline is really good with characterization.

Mr. Kline uses very short chapters to move his story along at a quick pace. Sometimes, a little too quick. There were a couple points where I’d wanted to relish in a potentially bloody scene, but was sent to the next chapter. When certain bad guys are getting their just desserts, Jeremy Kline’s keen ability as a writer whipped my blood-lust into a frenzy, but Mr. Kline still pulled his punches. Lazarus Cane is his first novel, he may have been nervous about bloodying my nose, but I can take it. (Off the record, I pulled a couple punches in my first one too.) With that being said, I did not expect ‘a Tim Marquitz’ level of violence and mayhem, but I had anticipated a little more of ‘the ugly’ in this book.

Lazarus Cane is truly a fantastic read, but you must push beyond the very beginning to see how fantastic this story is. In the first thirty pages, the characters appear stereotypical like Dexter/CSI/Dragnet type of caricatures, but by page ninety, they had all fleshed out and satisfied a deeper interest than my original opinion. The three main characters in this volume were strong and memorable. Upon reaching the end of the story, I was pleased to see that Mr. Kline is going to use them in at least one more novel, and hopefully a couple more.

The idea of Lazarus Cane fits the definition of ‘dark fiction,’ but the blood I’d thirsted for was delivered like a fine-looking stripper who refuses to take off her top. She’s standing there, she is super-hot and we know she’s got a good jumblies, but “for Christ’s sake, take off the top already!” As I got closer to the end, the darkness that I’d hoped for did become thicker and complimented the masterfully directed tension with a few unexpected twists. Figuratively, I said, “Oh thank heaven, she’s taking it off…” but she’s still wearing pasties over her nipples. (In other words, a villain or two could have died a bit more violently and I’d have been pacified.)

Yay!

If I was a reviewer and I intended to score this read, I’d give Lazarus Cane a 7.5 to 8.2 on a 10-point scale. Have no doubt, this is a thrilling read, and the strong characters made for a refreshing page-turner. As Mr. Kline unfolded his story, the drafting and layering kept me intrigued. The greatest asset to this book was the interactions between the many characters felt solid and believable. Jeremy Kline’s ability to convey doubt, as well as to raise cheer is very adept. There were many satisfying revelations along the journey of this story.

I will be looking for his second book to add to my shelves.

21
Jul
11

Angels and Demons

This will be about the novel written by Tim Marquitz, ‘Demon Squad: Armageddon Bound.’  ‘Demon Squad’ was one of the novels printed by Damnation Books, and of their writers, Tim Marquitz was one of the few customer-rated authors who had many favorable reviews. There was also the promise of both gratuitous sex and violence. Now that I am part of the Damnation team, I thought it would be interesting to see what my coworkers are doing. I was pleased with what I read. The story was worth the $18.80  for paperback. I could also have gone to damnationbooks.com and ordered an electronic copy for less than $7.

The Good
Let’s talk about the cover art. The cover makes the book, and the artist for this cover, Jessie Lucero, her vision was spot-on. From left to right, we see a blond with ginormous boobs cupped in black bra, a handsome fellow with a shaved head holding a handgun pointed directly at our face, and a classic Mephistopheles-looking character with a raised eyebrow. Red, black, and gray being the dominant colors, highlighted by two little skulls – like bookends – at the bottom. This was awesome marketing, the cover says it all.

Before we open the cover, there is background we need to know about Christian Mythology. Why? Because the brilliant idea that is Tim Marquitz’s needs a little explanation up front. As most people in the U.S. know, after Adam and Eve were created, the angel Lucifer deceived Eve against both God and Adam, and was then cast from heaven with a third of the angels. Yes, that is the very short and not-quite accurate version, but this is the tale most people would agree on.

So God cursed Adam and Eve with death, pain and suffering. Later, regretting his emotional outburst, God sends himself to earth as ‘Jesus’ to die in the place of man. This is so his own curse against man would be lifted, heralding the age of Grace.

The book of Revelations at the back of the New Testament promises that God is still going to kick all our asses including a dude known as the antichrist during a battle led by Jesus at a place called Armageddon. Then God’ll make a lake of fire, throw all us sinners in like at a Nazi book bake.

Here is Tim Marquitz’s awesome idea — God, tired of the chess game over the souls of men, amends with Lucifer. They re-unite and leave our dimension to go sort out their past problems. The angels are baffled – where did God go? The demons are happy, and power-plays begin for control of hell and earth. Man, once again, is stuck right in the middle.

But wait, it gets better, some angels feel that God’s last standing order was to see to the fulfillment of Armageddon and the end of all existence and actively seek annihilation. Other angels believe that is for God to decide when He returns. The same holds true for the demonic forces, only their reasons are more selfish. Politics will make strange bedfellows in the three-hundred pages to come.

Frank Trigg is our ‘hero’ caught in the middle of a mad world. He, at one time was set to be the anti-christ, but now days he is just a dude wanting to get laid while he still can and he helps as part of a movement called ‘Demonic Resistance and Containment.’ They are the anti-annihilation union of pro-existence demons, angels, wizards and psychics trying to save the world from extinction. Frank is our narrator and by page five, you will know if this is your kind of read or not. I was quit fascinated with the spin on famous demons and angels as well as where they stood in the absence of God and the Devil.

As the writer, Tim’s voice filtered through Frank Trigg is full of very distinct and colorful metaphors. I envy his ability to move the story quickly by consolidating emotion and description to quick similes, painting a broader scope of event and circumstance. This was very much a man’s tale. I’m not saying a woman couldn’t like it, but this story is very much geared toward a male reader.

The Bad
There is always a bad. An example, Hemingway’s good was his description, his bad was in how his great description also bogged down his stories. Tim Marquitz’s good is that there is always action happening in the story, his bad is that by the end of the story, the reader is exhausted by blood and gore to the degree that the final battle is diminished. (Now that I’m half-way through writing my second publishable novel, the first one will give scope to how far I’ve come in only a year. I’d bet Tim’s experience is similar.)

Another bad point, the hero is the denounced Anti-Christ. Later in the story, we find out that Frank rebelled against Lucifer and rejected his position, but up until that point, I felt a little dirty cheering on the villain of everything that is good. As the story develops, it becomes clearer that Frank really is just another guy trying to get laid in a world that is slowly going to hell, and by his infernal background, he is privileged to know the world may end any day, and he, just like the rest of us, doesn’t really want that to happen.

The final bad is a personal grievance. I am a character writer, I write my players to be in the fashion of Ray Bradbury’s, where when we think we know them, they drop to the next level and we see a bigger character. Tim Marquitz’s actors, although well described and colorful, sometimes seemed like paper-cutouts with limited dimensions. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all of them, Frank was awesome, but at times the rest of the players seemed only vehicles to move the story along.

Conclusion
Another reviewer read the follow-up novel ‘Demon Squad : Resurrection’ and proclaimed great advancement in Tim Marquitz’s story-telling ability. I’m not surprised, Tim’s voice in this one is strong and humorous and if he continued to develop his sharp wit, the second book would naturally be better.

I look forward to reading the second book, and maybe even the third if he continues with Frank’s strange view of our sinking world. It has been a long time since a book has captured my imagination and kept me chuckling with grim delight. More importantly to me, I got to see first-hand that my book, “The Wrong Way Down” fits right alongside Mr Marquitz’s. I have found a home.




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