Nicholas Black has one of the most interesting biographies I have seen lately. A Philosophy and Psychology student cum Martial Arts Master cum Security Specialist, he has traveled the world, fought with the French Foreign Legion, was indicted on weapons charges in the US, and now is writing lots of books. Black writes both fiction and non-fiction, and is at the moment completely self-published.
I met Nicholas Black on Twitter and decided to read his latest novel and first in a series, See Jack Die. This is not light reading, but tells a very interesting and compelling story that left me wanting to read the second installment (the not yet published See Jack Hunt).
We meet Jack Pagan about four-five months after a bad accident that left him with complete amnesia. Unable to remember anything prior to his hospital stay, Jack refers to himself as a five-month-old baby who was just born. Still undergoing many medical tests and psychological investigation, Jack Pagan lives in hospital sponsored outpatient apartments and has one good friend in Ricky, a trust fund medical student.
While he never mentions it to his doctors, Jack sees spooks. Little brown nasty looking spooks who do things like rip the souls out of dead people. The novel chronicles Jack’s search for what those spooks are and why he sees them. In between we get some church history, murderous book collectors, magical psychics, angels and demons, and visits with the dead.
Strangely combining the styles of Dean Koontz, Neil Gaiman, and Dan Brown, Black takes us from the hospital to the old voodoo shop of the Haitian magician Ms. Josephine, who gives Jack the centuries old and very powerful Book of Sighs, written in Nicea at the same time as the accepted Bible. This then leads to the world of the Dead, the Land of Sorrows, which exists just on top of our plane of existence and is full or morbid souls and horrifying creatures.
And the roller-coaster ride begins. Who is the strange woman who beckons Jack to the Land of Sorrows? Is Jack really St. John the Divine, the only person alive who can travel between the worlds of the living and dead and will liberate the trapped souls? Should they be liberated? What are the ghouls and should they be stopped? Can Jack’s body survive his trips back to the Land of Sorrows? Will Jack ever get his memories back? And, most importantly, can he save the world, his friends, and himself?
The writing is strong, but not always even, and the book could use some professional editing (right now it available through Black directly and as an Amazon Kindle book). But even with a few faults I found it to be an interesting and compelling tale of ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. It made me want to keep the lights on!