The Death Match by Christa Faust (47North, 2012)
Christa Faust uses her background as a mixed martial arts enthusiast for The Death Match. I’ve been a fan of Ms. Faust ever since picking up a copy of her novel Money Shot in a Boarder’s bookstore (which closed a few months later). Lately she’s written adaptations of TV shows (Enigma, Supernatural) for novelization, while creating her own original novels. A fan of classic noir fiction, she has all the right influences.
In The Death Match, Matt Cahill travels with his ax of justice to Long Beach, California. He’s read an account in a newspaper of a dock worker who was found partly eaten. Gruesome enough, the man’s photo in the paper showed an Ouroboros tattoo on his arm. The same symbol found on the ancient Anasazi altar the archaeologists where excavating before all hell broke loose in The Blood Mesa (#5). Mr. Dark, the supernatural villain of the series, has left a calling card and Matt needs to investigate.
Mistress Faust is best when it comes to character creation. For instance:
“The woman was probably in her late sixties and was extensively tattooed. Both wobbly, wrinkled arms were fully sleeved, and her leathery cleavage was crowded with fading butterflies and skulls and cursive script that hadn’t been legible since 1981. Her cottony, frazzled hair had been dyed safety-cone orange and sprayed up into a spiky style that resembled a toilet brush. She was wearing distressingly tight leather pants, clear plastic stripper heels, and enough makeup to keep a clown college in business for a year. Matt watched her struggling with a battered old nail gun, shaking it and swearing at it until it went off, firing a random nail into the scarred brick hide of the building.”
This is the first of the series to reference more than one of the other episodes. The Ouroboros first seen in #5 and the death match scenario was used in Ring of Knives, #2. By this novelette, no story arc has developed, but Death Match shows it can happen.
The major focus of the book are the two women MMA fighters. Matt Cahill becomes a supporting character as he races around after them, trying to prevent more carnage. Zombies make an appearance, always a sure-fire way to get the readers’ attention. There’s also plenty of violence.
I’m hoping the author will return for another Dead Man outing. She’s done her share of novel adaptations and this series is a perfect medium for her.
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