Dead Man: Ring of Knives
Book 2 in the Dead Man series
Lee Goldberg, James Daniels, William Rabkin
Adventures in Television
120 Pages, Paperback
Review by Darkeva
Summary: Matthew Cahill is an ordinary man leading a simple life until a shocking accident changes everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld that nobody else does. Now for him each day is a journey into a dark world he knows nothing about, a quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become … and a fight to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil. In Dead Man: Ring of Knives, Matt believes a madman may hold the secret to defeating Mr. Dark, the horrific jester with the rotting touch. But to reach him, Matt must infiltrate a lunatic asylum, where he is soon caught up in a spiral of bloodshed and madness. His only chance of escaping with his life and sanity intact is to face the unspeakable terror that awaits him deep in the asylum’s fog-shrouded woods … within the Ring of Knives.
Review: Dead Man: Ring of Knives is like the film Gothica except it’s actually scary. The novel kicks off with the main character, Matt, who has hitched a ride with a stranger to get out of a particularly thick fog. He was driving to a job interview, he claims, but saw a white stag and veered to prevent himself from hitting it, so his car landed in a ditch. He’s also the survivor of an avalanche, but doesn’t like to talk about it mostly because i0t gave him an ability-to see hidden evil and madness, which manifested in the form of rot, and only he can see it. Basically, he wants to find out if he’s nuts or not.
He’s on his way to a Mental Health Center in town specifically about a patient named Jesse Weston who suffered a similar accident while spelunking. Jesse’s friend died, but Jesse survived for six days. After that, he claimed to see lesions on people and that seeing them predicted violent incidents. He also said someone called Rotting Jack visited him then infected others with lesions and the odour of decomposing flesh always accompanied his appearances. Jesse received drugs to stop these hallucinations under the watchful eye of Dr. John Dindren at the Washington State facility.
The novel contains plenty of interesting twists and turns to get the reader deeper into the narrative, especially when Matt finally meets Dindren under circumstances much different than he was expecting. Dindren, although with his own problems, confirms his suspicions that Matt has what Jesse did and provides insights into the world of Rotting Jack as well as Mr. Dark, related entities that are the source of Matt’s troubles. The book’s creepiness factor definitely sinks in right away and escalates until the very end.
The authors researched the psychological parts of the story well, especially in terms of disorders and their roots in mythology, and I have to say that I never thought the story of the Holy Grail would have anything to do with this particular novel, but the authors surprised me.
Unfortunately for Matt, he has a conscience, and when things start to go way past awry at the hospital after midnight, he proves just what kind of man he is and shows a good deal of courage, but he also sees that getting the answers to what he wants to know isn’t the best thing for him.
Because of being hooked up to an old voltage machine, Matt remembers his wife, who one assumes died at some point, and the memories make him relive the agony of being torn away from her, one of the more effective uses of flashing back into backstory.
Eventually, Matt finds out what’s really been going on, who Rotting Jack is, and there’s a resolution to some degree, but the book ends on an incomplete cliffhanger that makes us wait until further volumes before revealing whether Matt was right about his diagnosis, and the aftermath of the novel’s climax.
This series has been drawing comparisons to Stephen King and Dean Koontz, something definitely warranted, at least judging by what’s in this volume. Fans who like their psychological horror mixed in with supernatural elements will greatly enjoy this series.