Audiobook Review: The Dead Man Vol. 2 by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin, David McAfee, James Reasoner and Harry Shannon

21 06 2012

The Dead Man Vol. 2 by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin, David McAfee, James Reasoner, and Harry Shannon

Read by Luke Daniels

Brilliance Audio

Length: 6 Hrs 41 Min

Genre: Horror

Quick Thoughts: The Dead Man Vol. 2 is the perfect guilty pleasure summer listening. It has an engaging and complicated main character and the stories are fast paced, with elements of horror, science fiction and mystery blended together in an easy to follow package.

Grade: B

I have a dirty little secret, I love the opening themes on television shows. It’s a weird obsession that has blossomed recently. Now, it’s not just the catchy songs, although I often enjoy them more than the television programs themselves, what really gets me is the themes that give a verbal synopsis of the show. I love knowing that the shows main character "was a cop and good at his job" but through his being framed for murder now "he prowls the badlands, an outlaw hunting outlaws… a RENEGADE." Listening to The Dead Man, Vol. 2 I occasionally became distracted by the thought that what this continuing episodic audiobook series needed was an opening theme. I was quite happy to discover at the start, they now had a theme song, seemingly called "Give a Hand to The Dead Man." Yet, still I was hoping to hear something like, "Matthew Cahill, an everyday woodsman, was killed by a freak avalanche while skiing with his girlfriend. Until three months later when he wakes up on the autopsy table. Now, haunted by evil, he travels the country in search of the mysterious Mr. Dark, knowing he cannot return to the woman he loves until he figures out just why he is THE DEAD MAN." Ok, this is why I write reviews and not fiction or snappy opening themes, but I think you get the picture.

The Dead Man Vol, 2 continues the tale of Mathew Cahill as he drifts from place to place encountering the evil that Mr. Dark helps bring into existence. He relies on his instincts, and ability to see the evil in people manifested in rotten flesh. There is definitely a formula to these tales. Cahill stumbles into a town, usually encountering an evil doer and an attractive woman. Life threatening mayhem ensues, with Cahill somehow managing to hold back the forces of evil, while attempting to gather more information about his condition. Like many good shows, each episode has its own self contained story, yet often included key revelations about why Cahill was returned from the dead. In the three episode arch of Vol. 2, Cahill manages to deal with Mr. Dark, yet makes new enemies, and discovers some ramifications of past choices. All three stories are well done, and entertaining, yet also full of cliché moments and classic TV tropes. If you’re a fan of those syndicated action series that The Dead Man emulates, this is actually a bonus. Sure, we’ve seen serial killers, ancient Indian curses, femme fatales, mercenaries, and former boom towns past their prime before, but there is a comfort in these stories. The Dead Man writers even manage a few new twists. My favorite of the stories in this edition is The Dead Woman, because it is the one that reveals the most as far as the mythology of the series goes, and manages to introduce an interesting new character that I imagine we’ll see again. The second story The Blood Mesa was a lot of fun, and combined an old Indian Curse, with some zombie-like action. The third vignette was called Kill Them All, and while it was my least favorite story of the volume, it adds a new story twist that was quite interesting. Overall, The Dead Man Vol. 2 is the perfect guilty pleasure summer listening. It has an engaging and complicated main character and the stories are fast paced, with elements of horror, science fiction and mystery blended together in an easy to follow package.

As always, Luke Daniels does an excellent job bringing these stories to life. Daniels knows what he is reading isn’t an intricate character study, and creates over the top characters that will often have you laughing at their antics or scowling at their misdeeds. His voice fits Mathew Cahill well, managing to convey the turmoil of his thoughts while still displaying the strange combination of youthfulness and world-weariness. This is one title you can just tell the narrator is having fun with. He never takes himself too seriously, and if his character voices push the end of stereotypical archetypes, it’s because most of the characters are a bit stereotypical.  The Dead Man series is TV for your head. Its main goal is to entertain you, and entertain you is does.

Note: Thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing a copy of this title for review.

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