Audiobook Review: The Dead Man Vol. 1 by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin and James Daniels

28 02 2012

The Dead Man Vol. 1 (Face of Evil, Ring of Knives, Hell in Heaven) by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin and James Daniels

Read by Luke Daniels and James Daniels

Brilliance Audio

Length: 7 Hrs 52 Min

Genre: Horror

Quick Thought: The Dead Man Vol. 1 is fun, pulpy adventure with a likeable main character. Horror fans looking for a break from weightier reads can just sit back and enjoy these adventure tales, while still having an interesting mystery to try and figure out.

Grade: B

I like television. I’m not really ashamed to admit it. I enjoy sitting down and watching at least one show every day. Outside of reading and listening to audiobooks, television is my favorite choice of entertainment. Now, I know this isn’t as hip as being a movie guy, but I actually prefer TV to movies. I like following a character for more than 90 minutes. Many of my favorite shows have been about the lone wanderer type. A man who has some event occur in his life, causing him to take to the streets to escape it, and solve the underlining mysteries surrounding it. Each week, they encounter a new situation, get pulled into a bit of adventure, and also, often gather another little tidbit of information on their dilemma. The first show like this I loved was the live action version of The Incredible Hulk when I was a kid. I loved how every episode ended with that scene of Dr. David Banner hitchhiking on the side of the road, while the signature melancholy piano song played. Later on, I found new shows that fit this bill, like Nowhere Man and Brimstone. These shows were always centered around a compelling character who despite their problems found themselves in small towns and big cities helping people. For me, these shows were always the ultimate TV experience because you got a good mix of episodic standalone shows, with an underlining mythology linking it all together. Each week, you cheered your hero as he fights wrong, but still long to get another little chunk of the mystery. The Dead Man Vol 1 in many ways, captures my favorite type of show, in audiobook form.

The Dead Man series is written by television producers Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, who have production and writing credits on shows like Spencer: For Hire, Monk and Psyche. The Dead Man is about Mathew Cahill, an everyman type who works in the Foresting Industry. After a skiing accident that leaves Matthew frozen under a mountain of snow for three months, he makes a miraculous recovery. Yet, this recovery come with a price. He meets a mysterious entity known as Mr. Dark, who can drive people crazy with a touch. Cahill and Mr. Dark are linked in some mysterious way, and he must leave behind all that he loves to search out this dark force, and discover the truth about himself. The first Volume contains three stories. The first, called Face of Evil acts much like a good Television pilot, instantly sucking you into Matthew’s world, and setting up the mythology. I instantly liked Matthew Cahill. At times, I found him maybe a bit to good, but very likeable. The story itself is quite creepy, with some gross out moments, but not gratuitously graphic. Sure, there are some nauseating scenes, particularly with the author’s descriptions of the rot of evil that only Cahill can see, but they serve a purpose in the narrative. The next story, Ring of Knives is written and narrated by James Daniels. It’s a well delivered tale of some creepy going ons at a mental institution. Readers who want more answers to Cahill’s problem may get frustrated, but the new tidbits that are revealed do an excellent job of creating more tantalizing questions.  The final story called Hell in Heaven was probably my favorite. Cahill stumbles upon a small town with a large banner that reads, "Welcome Home Matt." There he meets a town full of strange characters and generational feuds. It is full of surprising twists and gruesome violence. The Dead Man Vol. 1 is fun, pulpy adventure with a likeable main character. Horror fans looking for a break from weightier reads can just sit back and enjoy these adventure tales, while still having an interesting mystery to try and figure out.

Luke Daniels narrates the first and third stories in this Volume, and does so with his typical style. He does a great job developing Cahill as a character in the first story, portraying his inner struggles dealing with his "undead" state well. Yet, I think it’s the third part where Luke Daniels really shines. He gives the characters almost and old-timey religious feel, which perfectly fits the story and helps create the mood. His reading really cements the feeling that something just isn’t quite right in the little town called Heaven. I think it was an interesting choice to switch narrators for the middle tale, and I’ll admit to being a bit skeptical about it, but I think in the end it worked pretty well. James Daniels is a well established narrator, and also the author of that story. The only discontinuity in the tale is that Cahill sounds a bit older, but that feeling doesn’t distract from the story. James Daniels provides some genuinely funny moments. Ring of Knives is a brutal story, but also full of dark humor and some outrageous characters that James Daniels captures perfectly. When I choose The Dead Man Vol. 1 I was looking for a lighter and enjoyable read. This audio delivered, while also offering a fascinating underlining mythology that has me looking forward to the next volume which will be released in May.

Note: A special thanks to the good people at Brilliance Audio for providing a copy of this title for review.

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One response

2 03 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

Pulpy isn’t really my thing, but sounds like a good listen nonetheless.

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