Sunday, June 7, 2009

Daemon by Harry Shannon (Night of the Daemon; Night trilogy)

This review originally appeared in somewhat different form in the Spring 2008 issue of Dead Reckonings. Copyright 2008.

Previously published as Night of the Daemon in an ultra-limited edition of 200 copies — and now in a more affordable format for the rest of us — Daemon is the third in author Harry Shannon’s pulp-inspired (but otherwise unrelated) trilogy that began with Night of the Beast and Night of the Werewolf. Knowledge of the prior two is not necessary to get full enjoyment out of this combination military thriller–horror–mystery set in Las Vegas.

Jeff Lehane worked black ops in Iraq, then called it quits, but assents to help his ex-wife Heather with security at a rap-rock star’s concert. There, Lehane meets up with a tall figure in a skull mask who knows him and taunts him as he kills Heather. Lehane dispatches the stranger but later finds out that Heather’s corpse was snacked on at the morgue. Something from Lehane’s past is coming back for revenge, so he gathers up his old team (most of whom were on the security detail) and sets out on the hunt to get before it gets him.

Though the blend of genres is jarring at first (military fiction is usually grounded in hard reality), Shannon executes Daemon’s combination with skill, making the ghoulish eater of the dead just another target in the lives of this well-trained team of professional killers.

It helps that Shannon really knows how to create suspense, such as in one scene from the ghoul’s point of view. It lies in the back floorboard of a woman’s car, awaiting an opportunity to attack. The woman is unaware, but other things threaten its plan, so it strategizes. Scary stuff, a ghoul that can restrain itself until the right moment and adapt to its situation.

The beginning of Daemon feels slow, but in retrospect this is deliberate, as Shannon has a good deal of plot detail and character back-story to dish out before the novel really begins moving. Once all the pieces begin to come together, however, there’s no stopping Shannon’s prose as it muscles up to the rocketing, blood-drenched finale, assuring that Shannon ends his trilogy on a high point.

1 comment:

Chris said...

That scene with the ghoul strategizing in the car does sound freaky!

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