Monday 18 January 2016

REVIEW: Dallas Mullican - A Coin For Charon (Marlowe Gentry Book 1)

Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Winlock Press
Publication Date: 10th Sept 2015
Pages: 281


A copy of A Coin For Charon (Marlowe Gentry Book 1) was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Dallas Mullican, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Winlock Press.

Having so many indie authors as friends on Facebook and Twitter inevitably leads to you seeing other author names floating around that, you think you must connect with these people because they seem to be interesting chaps or chapesses. Dallas Mullican is a name I have seen around for a long time but for one reason or another never connected with. That was up until a short time ago when he was looking for reviews for A Coin For Charon. I thought I would finally take the plunge and ask. Was it a good move or should I have left well alone?

Marlowe Gentry is a cop on the edge. The last serial killer case he worked on only ended when his wife was killed and his daughter scarred for life.

Seraphim is the latest serial killer on the loose. His real name though is Gabriel. Gabriel believes he is killing to save his victims and finally set them free. The law, and Marlowe, would dispute this.

With Gabriel seemingly killing at random and Marlowe with no clue as to how to stop him, what follows is a furious clash of personalities within their own minds as they both struggle with their own demons and struggle to end the battle. But who will be victorious?

OK, so how did finally making contact with Mr Mullican work out for me? Well, I will review properly but just let me say this: I would class this book as a brutal, psychological thriller, verging on a horror but for book lists and suchlike, I would put it in the thriller category. The date is the 11th January 2016. I will be hard pushed to read a better one the rest of this year.

Characters. A book needs characters. It also helps if the book has characters that you can believe in and connect with pretty early in the story. For whatever reason, I connected with each and every one in this book immediately. Why would that be I hear you ask? No idea. Must just be the way they are written. Tick one for writing skills.

Marlowe Gentry is obviously the main man in this, being the hero of sorts. He is a cop with a vicious brutal past. You couldn’t get any worse. He is trying to rebuild his life now, but it isn’t really working. He sees himself as a failure constantly swimming in a lake of guilt. His partner, Spence, knows this, and would do anything to help Marlowe out of this hole. He is a really good man to have at your back. Likeable and loyal. Dr Drenning is a woman with a past that, again, could not be any more brutal. The problem for her is that it is also her present. Max is dying. He has no option on this. He needs to try and do it as dignified as possible.

Gabriel is a killer. At the same time though he is a person that you can connect with in more ways than one. He is also dealing with the fact he is a failure in his own mind and his lake of guilt is nearly as big as Marlowe’s. Put all of these troubled people together in this story and they totally gel together like their only purpose in life was to be in this story. Tick two for writing skills.

The plot has been done before. Hasn’t it? Serial killer that is seemingly impossible to trace and stop, with the main cop having a troubled past that interferes with his life on a daily basis? Yeah I seem to remember a few books and films with a similar vain. What makes this different then? Why does it hold your attention to the very end? This would be where tick three for writing skills comes in.

When you connect the characters and the plot and the atmosphere and the fear and the horror and the intrigue and the blood and the psychology and the tenderness and the sadness and the excitement all together, you get a story that not only takes the old plots, but sort of rewrites them and ups the bar a bit as if Mr Mullican was saying to some old writing dogs, “OK then I read yours, now read mine and gimme a shout when you’re done!”

This story is not just a thriller. To me it is an examination of the human condition of guilt and the human trait of feeling a failure. The interesting part for me is the fact that normally the killer OR the cop is the one that feels the guilt and is a failure. The other one normally calls the shots. In this story, the cop AND the killer are so alike they could almost be twins separated at birth. They are both riddled with guilt. They both consider themselves to be failures. You see these weaknesses from both sides of the coin.

I don’t like doing spoilers and I hope this description of the characters doesn’t give anything away, but this story is immense. It is so emotional from so many points of view. There are so many times in this story that you will feel totally sorry for someone and just want to give them a big hug. Even ones that shouldn’t deserve the hugs. The villain in this one, for me, was one of the most likable characters I have read in years. I felt dirty for liking him so much. One thing he does towards the end of the book had me wanting to skin him alive very very slowly. It was the most despicable thing I have ever read in my life.

Marlowe is one of the best cop characters I have read in years as well. He seems to think he is invincible most of the time, albeit a bit misguided in this assumption as well. This story verges on the supernatural at times. It hints that the character of Gabriel thinks he is connected to the gods at times. I have never made this comparison in a review before, probably because I think the other writer is a bit untouchable, but, Dallas Mullican has written something here that fans of John Connolly would be over the moon to read. Similar style, with similar likeable characters and plots that, although done before, read as fresh, and perfectly paced and perfectly enjoyable. Tick number four for the writing skills.

I could go on all night about this book. I loved it. And it’s a debut. Wow. Roll on book Two!

To summarise: Seriously? Just buy it.

General rating:

★★★★★ Superb debut!

Thriller rating:

★★★★★ See above!

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy A Coin For Charon or any other books from Dallas. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Gabriel isn’t murdering anyone―he’s saving them.

The media has dubbed him the Seraphim Killer. He believes the gods have charged him to release the chosen, those for whom life has become an unbearable torment. Gabriel feels their suffering—his hands burn, his skull thunders, his stomach clenches. Once they are free, he places coins on their eyes to pay Charon for passage into paradise.

Detective Marlowe Gentry has spent the past two years on the edge. The last serial killer he hunted murdered his wife before his eyes and left his young daughter a mute shell. Whenever she looks at him, her dead eyes push him farther into a downward spiral of pain and regret. He sees the Seraphim as an opportunity for revenge, a chance to forgive himself―or die trying.

Gabriel performs the gods’ work with increasing confidence, freeing the chosen from their misery. One day, the gods withdraw the blessing―a victim he was certain yearned for release still holds the spark of life. Stunned, he retreats into the night, questioning why the gods have abandoned a loyal servant. Without his calling, Gabriel is insignificant to the world around him.

He will do anything to keep that from happening.

After spending twenty years as the lead singer of a progressive metal band, Dallas Mullican turned his creative impulses toward writing. Raised on King, Barker, and McCammon, he moved on to Poe and Lovecraft, enamored with the macabre. During his time at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he received degrees in English and Philosophy, Dallas developed a love for the Existentialists, Shakespeare, Faulkner, and many more great authors and thinkers. Incorporating this wide array of influences, he entices the reader to fear the bump in the night, think about the nature of reality, and question the motives of their fellow humans.

A pariah of the Deep South, Dallas doesn't understand NASCAR, hates Southern rock and country music, and believes the great outdoors consists of walking to the mailbox and back. He remains a metalhead at heart, and can be easily recognized by his bald head and Iron Maiden t-shirt.

And for more about Dallas, visit his site or find him on social media:

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