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carols

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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Dead Harvest  - Chris F. Holm Dead Harvest comes to be by way of some very enthusiastic reviews of good friends, but I confess it missed me. While it started off well with an engaging character hook featuring a soul collector, by mid-book, I found myself bored by the repetitive plotting. I set it down for a week, returning only with the goal of providing a review. The brief: Sam Thorton is now a soul collector, harvesting souls bound for Hell. With the job comes the ability to body-hop, either by 'riding' a living body--and therefore fighting with the normal resident for dominance--or by animating a recently dead one. Sam finishes a job in England only to be sent to a collection in New York, his hometown. A young woman who tortured and killed her family is lying in the ICU, but when he discovers her soul is innocent, Sam refuses to collect. Sam and the woman go on the run through New York in a plot line that seems suspiciously close to The Transporter, minus the flashbacks that give background on how Sam became a collector.The story begins well, with an intriguing beginning and initially enjoyable writing style. Holm clearly has writing talent. Several choice phrases stood out for their vivid imagery:"By noon the place would be packed with people eager to exorcise the demon winter--couples strolling hand in hand through gardens rife with fresh buds...""My heart raced--the useless panic response of a fledgling meat-suit""The result was a tangled labyrinth of wrong turns and dead-end corridors, peppered with the occasional brightly colored map in what I can only assume was a fit of architectural sarcasm.""Man, I hope she tries to kill me, I thought. I could use a happy ending.""my head felt like it was full of angry bees."Unfortunately, there were also examples of less coherent and thoughtful phrasing to provide contrast:"I threw myself upward like a sit-up from hell, slapping away its hands and shoving the creature backward...""Something happened to its eyes that I'd rather not describe""I tried to force any thought of Kate from my mind, Which was about as useful as, I don't know, something not so useful."There were a few further missteps, most notably in dialogue feeling stilted and of the 'overly explanatory' variety. ("But why would you do that?" "Because..." yada, yada; long explanation in the middle of running from the police). The few flashes of humor that I found so enticing in the beginning don't really continue in a way that maintains the balance between tension and character. The most disappointing aspect was the general action-oriented storyline. As I picked it up expecting a noirish-urban fantasy mystery, what I found was almost entirely action flick, including awkward dialogue. The fugitives careen from major skirmish to major skirmish with very little investigating along the way. Various deus ex machina save them from being cornered. Despite Sam's body-hopping ability, he spends much of the chase battered, bleeding and nearly crippled. There is even--forgive the spoiler--a helicopter hijack. Call me slow, but it was then it dawned on me that this had about as much in common with a noir detective as the average Hollywood action script. Which is what it reads like--Chris Holm's calling card to Hollywood. Good for him--it appears screen ready.Truly for me, it was two stars on the enjoyment scale. I would have rated it a strong four stars until chapter ten or so, but the fugitive plot failed to entertain, and the creative promise of the collector was cancelled out by the leaden dialogue.