Sam Thornton is a Collector of souls and you’d think the poor guy could just do his job. Alas, when you’re working for the guys downstairs amid the backdrop of brewing war between Heaven and Hell, you’d think someone might want to cut you a little slack. Not so for poor Sam – he’s been dispatched to collect the soul of a very bad dude and the book starts off with Sam doing just that – the only problem is that he’s been duped. Sam has collected the wrong soul and this unfortunate double cross is pretty much hammered home when he wakes up in a hotel room that is literally carpeted with insects.
Like, bajillions of them.
THE WRONG GOODBYE is the title of the second book in Chris F. Holm’s fantastic COLLECTOR series. It’s urban fantasy for sure, but it’s also a road trip in a classic Cadillac. It’s all hell breaking loose and the promise of spending eternity in nothingness if Sam can’t get the soul he was originally dispatched to collect. Old friendships can be a killer, particularly when you’ve been screwed over by another collector. In this book, we get more back story as to how Sam, a fairly decent sort of agent for the forces of darkness, wound up becoming a collector in the first place. In an earlier review, I’d said that Sam was a little bit doomed and a little bit damned. We learn more about the massive sacrifice Sam made for someone he loved with all his heart and soul – a soul that is now damned for all eternity.
We’ve got body swapping going on – Holm does a fantastic job of explaining to the reader just what it’s like to wake up in a morgue in someone else’s skin. We also meet a lovable sidekick in Gio, another damned soul in someone else’s body – a soul that Sam is going to use to draw out the bad guy. So yeah, Sam is using his sidekick but he’s got three days to find a missing soul that he should have already collected or it’s bye-bye time for Sam.
Oh, and we learn that demons are addicted to skim – tiny shavings from human souls that allow demons to experience minuscule, fragmented vignettes of that soul’s life – a way to actually feel what it used to be like to live amid God’s grace. What a brilliant plot device – and Sam actually goes into the demonic equivalent of a crack house. Also, if you split a human soul in half it’s sort of like a hydrogen bomb – Holm suggests a famous natural disaster was actually a soul that had been split open.
And that brings us to a great calamity about to fall onto the human world if Sam can’t find that rotten, stinking missing soul, let’s just call it Noah Version 2,0.
Listen, if you love urban fantasy with colorful characters and a protagonist who you want to stand up and cheer for, I highly recommend this book. THE WRONG GOODBYE picks up where DEAD HARVEST left off, only this time the stakes are much higher – for Sam – for all of humanity. Sam Thornton is a good guy working for the bad guys – an impossible situation and that’s what makes this series one of the best UF series in bookstores. The hero’s journey is laid out for all to see, only for Sam there is no happy ending – there never can be. Gripping, page-turning realism. THE WRONG GOODBYE is everything that’s right about urban fantasy and one of the best books of the year.