Angry Robot, out September 26 (US), October 4 (UK)
Sam Thornton is on a tight leash but when he is double-crossed by an old “friend” he finds himself on the run across America with only a reanimated gangster for company…
If you liked Chris Holm’s first Sam Thornton adventure, then you’re definitely going to find this one works for you as well – but for the benefit of any newcomers, there’s plenty of explanations of the set up (including Sam’s reason for becoming a Collector). The odd detail may pass you by (if you want to know about the helicopter incident, buy Dead Harvest!) but The Wrong Goodbye gives you what you need, and then adds considerably to the readers’ knowledge about both Sam and his world.
It was clear from the first book (and Holm’s interview with us) that this isn’t simply a question of good angels vs evil demons with the Collectors somewhere in the middle. The last bit is true, to an extent, but everyone has shades of grey – from Lilith, Sam’s handler, to a blind transgender former showgirl whose help becomes invaluable during Sam’s travels across the States.
The centrepiece of the book, in which Sam tries to infiltrate a demon’s headquarters and get to the bottom of what’s going on, is chilling, both in its descriptions of the otherworldly horrors and the more “real” elements that Sam encounters. The backstory for one of the key characters is in some ways even worse, since it reflects a true horror that is all the more terrible because it could be drawn from a history of the 20th Century.
Throughout, Sam Thornton remains a credible character with whom the reader can empathise and this contemporary noir thriller uses its fantasy elements to rewrite the rules of the game sufficiently that while you may think you know what’s coming next, you can’t be quite sure. Rather like Sam himself.
Verdict: A strong urban fantasy that will cement Holm’s reputation in the field. 8/10