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by hmhibbit, April 2, 2012

Where the Dead Fear to Tread
M.R. Gott
Review brought to you by OBS staff member Verushka

When I first saw the cover of this book I immediately thought of Sin City – the poster with Bruce Willis pointing a gun down at someone, surrounded by other characters in the cast including Jessica Alba and Benicio Del Toro etc. That reminder gave a more than apt vision of this novel – action, action and more action.

The premise of the novel revolves around a serial killer, Chandler and a cop, Kate searching for a missing child. Chandler is a former prosecutor who wreaks his own personal brand of revenge on criminals who abuse children, while Kate is the cop who is pursuing him. Together these characters stumble into the supernatural world, while trying to deal with the harsh realities of the case they are following.

As implied by the cover of the novel to me, action is definitely this book’s strength. Gott is a superb writer in these actions scenes, unafraid of delving into the blood, gore (and horror) and doing so impressively. There is a clinical tone to his writing, which helps when it comes to the intense action and horror, but it isn’t necessarily a strength when it comes to building William and Kate’s characters as people we should care about.

William is a serial killer and Kate is someone who envies what he does, so there is no room for much emotion in either. I am incredibly interested to see where he goes with Kate in this regard in his next book, but for me, this book was ultimately more William’s introduction to readers rather than Kate’s, so I can understand her past and her motivations aren’t going to be as center stage as William’s is. There is a lack of emotion about William as the book begins and on the one hand, he’s a serial killer and it befits him.

What makes a man go from being a successful prosecutor to a cold-blooded killer? When we do learn the answer to this question and the depth to which it affects William it was far too late into the book for me. As much as I abhor the people – abusers, child traffickers – I needed to know more about him than what I was given in the beginning of the book. As it stands, those revelations feel a little bit too much like an information dump about him. Gott’s writing and adept flair for action reminds me of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series. Both authors are excellent at action, but as Kadrey begins his novels giving us Stark’s motivations (which I admit, wasn’t enough as the series progressed) I had no idea about William’s until well into the book.

Don’t get me wrong, there is depth to William that fleshes the tragedy of his life out, but it happens far too late for me.

All in all, if you are in need of an action fix, with some supernatural horror thrown in, this is for you.

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