November 3, 2012 by Reader's Connection
Have you watched any episodes of Dead Like Me? It ran on Showtime for a couple of seasons, 2003-2004, and featured a group of reapers–undead beings who wandered the city, gathering souls from people about to die.
Chris F. Holm’s 2012 paperbacks Dead Harvest and The Wrong Goodbye feature the undead Sam Thornton, and he collects souls, too. But he only grabs them if they’re bound for hell, and as you can see from the cover art, collectors in Sam’s world do their gathering in a rather violent fashion.
Sam is out there, trying to do his job, just yanking the souls that he’s assigned to yank. One day, though, he reaches in for a young woman’s soul and realizes that she’s sinless–or in any case, she shouldn’t be hell-bound.
For the first time in the history of the universe, a soul has been framed. Sam looks into it, like a good detective, and brings on all sorts of cosmic problems. We’re on the edge of a war between heaven and hell.
Eh — if I was right, and this girl’s soul really did hold the fate of the world in the balance, and least I’d know that God has got a sense of humor. I mean, %!$*!, he could have sent her a savior with a clue.
Sam has to resort to unusual practices, involving blood and chants and the summoning of beautiful but dangerous beings:
For all my effort, I wasn’t at all sure she’d show–these sorts of invocations are more the domain of the living, and my Sumerian ain’t exactly up to snuff.
I’ve only read Dead Harvest, but I’m adding both volumes in this new The Collector series to my group of gift suggestions. Some soul on your list will love Sam: his language is hardboiled and profane, and his mode of transporation is objectionable. (He possesses bodies, dead or alive, and waltzes around in them.) But he has a sense of humor, a sense of duty, and, for a body-possessing soul-yanker, a strong moral sense.
If you’re interested, here are the opening credits for Dead Like Me. This sequence has always brought joy to my heart.