Now this is how a series should be handled: Keep putting them out with a variety of authors tackling the material. James Daniels comes to the literary plate of Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin’s THE DEAD MAN series and knocks it out of the park in RING OF KNIVES.
For those who have not read the first book — and why have you not? — a brief recap: Matthew Cahill had an accident that froze him under an avalanche for some time. Once revived, he realized he has a bizarre power: seeing the evil in people to a horrific degree. Daniels takes that idea and continues with the large arc of this character.
This second volume opens with Cahill getting a lift in a tow truck to his destination: a mental hospital, because he has found out about another person who also might have his power. But as soon as he arrives, trouble is afoot. To say the hospital makes Creedmoor Psychiatric Center of the ’70s look like a country club is an understatement. It’s run like some fiefdom, and the second shift is where it really gets nasty.
Cahill is told the patient no longer is there and that the doctor who was in charge left. But that does not stop him, especially when a nurse tells him that the doctor is actually a patient. The book goes into overdrive with creepy aspects, and there are plenty to go around. Cahill becomes the men’s-adventure hero that the book promises, more Penetrator then Executioner, in the sense of his action. It all builds to a fantastic fight sequence to close it all out.
Daniels does some work to build upon the mythos of the series, providing readers with some information that will be explored more than likely as it progresses. I can’t stress how much fun the DEAD MAN books have been, especially since they are both under 100 pages and can be read in no time. Let’s hope the steak continues. —Bruce Grossman