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Lord of Homicides, by Dennis Latham Book Review | SFReader.com
Lord of Homicides, by Dennis Latham Genre: Fantasy Publisher: YS Gazelle Published: 2007 Review Posted: 11/27/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10
Lord of Homicides, by Dennis Latham
Book Review by David M. Pitchford
Have you read this book?
I recall a book on writing that used, "and then, all hell broke loose," as the greatest example of telling instead of showing. The author was nearly rabid over the whole thing, going on for a number of pages; I got bored with it and put the book away. The sentence recalls itself to me now because it's pretty much what Dennis Latham's Lord of Homicides is about. It shows what "and all hell broke loose" tells. And Latham does it as nobody else can. You'll laugh until you cry and cry until you pee yourself reading this book straight through—not that I did that or anything; and if I did, the devil made me do it.
Back in the heyday of my addiction to fantasy fiction, it was the serious stuff that most captivated me, with one exception: Robert Asprin's "Myth Adventures." Looking back, I'd say you should likely compare Lord of Homicides with that series, some Vonnegut, and toss in Dan Brown and Tom Clancy with just the right amount of Absynthe.... Get the picture? Demons, angels, Moses-turned-angel, and some pathetic loser by the name of Nathan Bright. Add to this a psychotic ex-cop with a seriously creative perversity you'll have to read to believe, and Nathan's sister, who visits to tell her brother, while he's hosting a bazillion demons on his Indiana property, that she has decided to become an ex-nun.
Why is Nathan Bright's life suddenly taking a turn down Bizarre Boulevard? That is the mystery, indeed. Nathan is a down-and-out lush with a gambling habit. His wife recently left him for the local America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir manager. As a parting gift, she left a two-tailed dog as ugly as sin who hates Nathan. He—Nathan, not the dog—is a veteran with a government position in lovely downtown Cincinnati. Due to a pattern of alcohol abuse and compulsive gambling, which naturally led to an abuse of benefit days, Nathan is pushing the line with his boss. Meanwhile, he's just a few years shy of early retirement, and now he has suddenly acquired the mysterious ability to see demons, which are everywhere around him—around everyone.
Balberith, the Lord of Homicides and reigning yuckety-yuk in the world of brimstone, reveals himself to Nathan Bright. (You'll have to read the book to find out why Balberith is on Lucifer's throne.) The lordly demon takes a shine to Nathan and, uninvited of course, moves into Bright's home. Why? Because Nathan is the only human on record who can see demons. Other than that "JC" character a couple thousand years ago. And, on that subject—things may not have been as they were recorded. . . .
Why is Balberith concerned with Nathan Bright, enigma that he is? Nathan is the wild card in a deck that Balberith just stacked. As we all know, Hell is populated by angels who fell into the dark sin of envy. Specifically, the envy of humans. After all, the Big Man offered salvation to a bunch of meat puppets with miniscule lifespans and relegated half the heavenly choir to a life behind the iron door. Balberith must keep track of Nathan Bright to protect his own plan of nuking Cincinnati, a disaster aimed at causing an inevitable chain reaction resulting in total nuclear cataclysm and the end of humanity.
For his part, Nathan just wants . . . something different. He realizes his life is on a flaming slope toward Brimstonesville but is only now finding any ambition to change course. But will he? Is he, like all humans, basically good? Or is he fundamentally evil? If we toss down another six pack and smoke another pack of smokes, maybe we'll just pass out and piss ourselves and the whole thing will blow over. But when was life ever that simple?
If you're turned off by total irreverence, don't read this book. Or maybe you should. After all, isn't satire simply reverence under a black light? Of course it is! This book is a hoot through and through. Maybe a few places go a bit far with the juvenile antics of demons. Perhaps a few of the characters, especially Scrotum and Gonadis, are a bit flat. And unbelievable? It's a satire! Unbelievable is par for the course.
The only serious beef I have with this book is the cover. What the blazing hell were they thinking? What's it supposed to represent? Why not a cartoon? Maybe something along the lines of that Holly-would-if-she-could movie with Brad Pitt, or maybe "Fritz the Cat." It's a small gripe. And I would be remiss were I to abstain from mentioning a peppering of editorial goofs. However, if the editor is anything like myself, he likely was laughing too much of the time to catch everything. They're like flies on crap, really; you just learn to swat and ignore them. Seriously, they're what most would consider typos, for the most part; nothing overly distracting, unless you have a Toomer demon inside you telling you it has to be perfect or the whole thing is crap.
Oh, yes, there is a bit of strong language here. But considering the opportunity Latham has to abuse it, he's judicious in his use of curse words.
Overall, I came away with fond memories, warped ideas of demons and angels, and the strong desire to run out and buy every other book Dennis Latham has written. Lord of Homicides may fall well short of literary, but it takes a fiery chariot to the heavens of pulp entertainment.
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