Congregations Of The Dead by Moore and Rutledge; Arcane Wisdom; 2013; 390 pgs; $4.99 US

I have finally found my new Repairman Jack! More accurately, I should say – Repairman Jacks. James A. Moore and Charles Rutledge have created a couple of characters that I can not only identify with, but who I can emotionally invest in as I had with F. Paul Wilson’s iconic everyman who battled the supernatural.

The two authors of Congregations Of The Dead bring their heroes from Blind Shadows, Wade Griffin and Carl Price, back in a tale that not only ups the carnage quotient, but surpasses Blind Shadows in sheer entertainment value. How entertaining is Congregations Of The Dead? I’ve read a lot of great books already this year, but I enjoyed Congregations Of The Dead so much that it just vaulted to my favorite novel of 2013.

After wiping out a band of extra dimensional monsters a few months back, private detective Wade Griffin and Sheriff Carl Price are hoping that their lives will return to a somewhat normal pace. But Crawford’s Hollow, the county in Georgia where they live and work, still has its share of misery in store for them. Young girls are being kidnapped, and both Griffin and Price have cases that may be linked to a child pornography ring. In addition, Carl is running into more than a few cases of gruesome dead bodies around the county. And to make matters worse, Carl’s cheating ex-wife, Tammy, is back in town and she’s looking to get back together with him. Then, there’s Lazarus Cotton.

Cotton is a revival preacher who came to the county and has set up shop, coincidentally, around the same time as the kidnappings. Wade decides to investigate the preacher and finds himself blocked from doing so, so he and Carl pay a clandestine visit to his church one night. When they arrive the church is dark and quiet, so they cut the chains on the front door and make their way in. Weirdly, the church is cold, freezing cold, and as they make their way up the center aisle they discover something else, all the pews are filled with people. There are men, woman, and children in the seats, and they all appear to be dead. Then, one of them opens his eyes. Then another. What follows is what may be the second most frightening battle between man and the undead that I have ever read. I say second best because the best battle between man and the undead I ever read comes later in the book.

Blind Shadows had all of the elements that I long for in a horror novel. Not only are the lead characters exceptionally portrayed, but all the important secondary characters are interesting enough to have novels of their own. The action in Congregations Of The Dead starts from the first pages and it just doesn’t let up until the end. Speaking of the end, this novel has one hell of an extended ending. The violence and horror that finishes this novel has classic pulp origins that are as good or exceeds the best horror fiction released in the early 1980’s. Congregations Of The Dead is so well written, so tightly plotted, and so action packed, that once you start this novel the world will be dead to you – you won’t be able put it down.

I make no bones about James A. Moore occupying a spot in my top five horror authors of all time, and Congregations Of the Dead solidifies his position there. Moore and Rutledge have penned an excellent two books with Griffin and Price as their protagonists, and I’m hoping like hell that this is only the beginning of a larger series of novels. Though the adult Repairman Jack has been regulated to being a fond memory, thank God I have Wade Griffin and Carl Price to keep a smile on my face and my imagination soaring.

(This review was made from an advanced reading copy, the page information and pricing amount may change at the time of publication. Pricing was based on the E-book release though there will be paper copies published also.  The Limited Edition will be $ 49.00)

 


Feb 22, 2013

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