The Collector: The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

the wrong goodbye

Bane of Kings writes a review for the second installment in the superb urban fantasy pulp Collector series, entitled The Wrong Goodbye written by Chris F. Holm and published by Angry Robot Books. It’s out in October 2012 in the UK, but it is released today in the US. 

“An explosive follow up to Dead Harvest, two out of two for Chris F. Holm, urban fantasy fans will love this. Sam Thorton is a protagonist to be reckoned with.” ~The Founding Fields

The first novel in The Collector series was released earlier this year, which I loved. So, when the second novel was avaliable for an eARC download from Angry Robot, I eagerly snapped up the chance and almost as soon as it appeared on my IPod I began reading, and couldn’t put it down. If the third novel in The Collector series continues to be as good as the first two, then I honestly believe that Sam Thorton will be up there battling with the likes of Harry Dresden, and other similar male protagonists of the urban fantasy genre (although, Dresden and Thorton both come from different backgrounds, and aren’t quite as similar as I made them out to be).

Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.

Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.

Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Missing | Soul Provider | Call Collect | Demon Child ]

For those of you who haven’t read Dead Harvest yet, don’t worry, you don’t have to. Chris F. Holm does a great job of catching the reader up with what happened last time in a way that doesn’t affect the breakneck pace of the book. You won’t feel lost at any point during the book mainly due to the fact that it sticks to Sam’s first person narrative all the way through, allowing you to get a clear view inside the Collector’s head. As well as being a pulp urban fantasy novel, The Wrong Goodbye also doubles up as a road trip, the car involved being a Cadillac. This makes the story more interesting and enjoyable, adding something fresh that I haven’t seen in an urban fantasy novel before. (Alex Verus stuck in London, and Dresden stuck more or less in Chicago.)

The novel is fast paced, and continues the style of Dead Harvest that for those who have read that book will be familiar with. The characters in this novel are believable, and the action is pretty much non stop after the flashback to introduce a new character to our tale, Danny – who is more important to the plot than you will initially think. Chris F. Holm writes in a way that will keep you turning the pages, and if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put it down. I loved The Wrong Goodbye even more than I enjoyed Dead Harvest. It’s what The Dark Knight was to its prequel - more explosive, more epic, and a lot more enjoyable even though both Begins and Dead Harvest were still good  in their own right.

Having read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, I can say that fans of that will certainly enjoy The Wrong Goodbye. There aren’t any vampires or werewolves in this tale, as Chris F. Holm sticks with angels and demons, and we get a helping from both sides in this book. Whist there was more of them in Dead Harvest, The Wrong Goodbye focuses more on The Collectors and their role, leaving me to wonder where Chris F. Holm will take the reader with the third book in the trilogy, which (as far as I’m aware, hasn’t been named yet) I will certainly be sticking around for. Why wouldn’t I be? I thoroughly enjoyed The Wrong Goodbye. 

As a character, Sam is a strong lead and great to root for. You can’t help but back him over the bad guys in The Wrong Goodbye, and although he may not be the most unique urban fantasy protagonist ever (there’s still the sarcasm that you’ve got to take into account, something which is very frequent in this subgenre I find), that won’t matter – Chris F. Holm writes a tale that keeps the reader engaged enough to be left with asking more.

The action is great, suspenseful and engaging – another element that keeps the reader hooked throughout the book. The Wrong Goodbye is explosive, enthralling, page turning and everything that you would want from a sequel to a book as awesome as Dead Harvest. A great read, and another book that continues to impress me. Hopefully this can continue with my next review, which is either going to be CZ Dunn’s Malediction or The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks (which is an epic read, I finished it last night).

Verdict: 5/5

The Collector Series: Dead Harvest, The Wrong Goodbye, TBA

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and a prolific reviewer who can be found on many places on the internet usually under the same username – when he’s not trying to catch up on the many seasons of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


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