Richard Finney and D. L. Snell, Demon Days (Ape Entertainment, 2009)
Messrs. Finney (The Chimes Before Midnight) and Snell (Roses of Blood on Barbed Wire Vines, viz. review 2Jun2010) turn in this slim novel, the first in a series (the second novel of which, Angel of Light, has already been released). There’s not a great deal here you haven’t seen before, but the authors throw in some interesting twists and adopt the globe-hopping tactic of keeping the reader interested with fun descriptions of, let’s face it, places you and I are probably never going to travel to. It must be an effective ploy, thriller writers have been using it for decades, and as far as I’m concerned at least, I always buy into it one hundred percent. An armchair traveller is me!
Plot: a number of seemingly unrelated events are pointing Biblical scholars to the conclusion that humanity is entering the last days. Not that this is anything new; every generation believes in the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ, am I wrong? But as we open, we discover that this generation’s beliefs may have something a little more concrete to back them up. Tom and Sandy, an engaged couple vacationing in Hawai’i, get into a helicopter accident, during which Tom is gravely injured. He believes he sees, and talks to, God, who sends him back because his work on Earth is not yet done—but as time goes on, Sandy starts believing that the being Tom encountered while he was clinically dead was anything but holy. After unsuccessfully attempting to figure out what Tom is doing during his mysterious nights out on her own, Sandy begins assembling a ragtag band of folks to help her figure out whether Tom is an agent of a being set on bringing about the End of Days. One wouldn’t call any of them the best in their field, or even average, really… but something’s better than nothing, right?
Well, no, but the foibles of the good guys make for good reading, and once we get where we’re going and hit the Big Reveal(TM), we find that… well, that would be a major spoiler, but let’s say that Finney and Snell set up a couple of fake floors for the reader to fall through on the way to that Big Reveal that make it more interesting than it would otherwise be. It’s not a bad little book, though it is a bit on the short side (~150pp.) for a series entry, IMO, and it would have strengthened the book considerably if the authors had given us another, say, fifty pages of character development. I’m all for plot-based work, but three-dimensional characters will still make a plot-based book work better, since the reader can empathize with one (or more) of them, something I found very difficult here.
Still, it’s good enough that I’m planning on following the rest of the series. ** ½
Trailer. (Yes, okay, as much as I despise them, I’m going to start posting them.)