Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jake's Wake

Writing tends to be a solitary endeavor, done in seclusion, often in the hours when everyone else is asleep, with little outside input. There are a few exceptions to this, and the most prominent in the horror genre was the pairing of John Skipp and Craig Spector, who combined to produce many of the 80s best horror stories. That collaboration dissolved a long time ago, and now Skipp has found a new partner in fear, rising author Cody Goodfellow. Judging by the evidence of their first mass market publication, Jake’s Wake, out now from Leisure, Skipp and Good fellow may do for the 21st century what Skipp and Spector did for the Reagan era.

I’m not giving away anything to reveal the protagonist of Jake’s Wake, evangelist Jake Connaway, is dead by the end of the epilogue. Jake is the embodiment of the excesses of televangelism, doing blow, drinking, and chasing skirts. This last hobby leads to his dénouement, and the book proper begins with a gathering of the women in his life (and their companions) to sort out the details of his legacy. The party is interrupted by an unexpected guest: Jake has returned from the dead, and is in a bad mood and ready to settle scores.

The story that follows is filled with gonzo violence and gore. Taking place in its entirety on the night of Jake’s resurrection, it rushes forward to a bloody and somewhat unexpected conclusion, when the story behind Jake’s return is partially revealed. Suffice it to say, any Skipp and Spector fans will be very happy with this.

I’ve griped about the length of books today so many times I’m starting to realize it’s my problem instead of the writers, but I do feel Jake’s Wake could have been shortened considerably. There is a Mad Max-esque sequence early in the second half that is entertaining, but does little to advance the story, and mostly serves as a distraction. But that is my only quibble, and I heartily recommend the book. It is an exciting, fast read.

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