A guest review by YA Science Fiction Author, Imran Siddiq
What the blurb says: “The sign on Jake Helman’s office door says Private Investigator, but this ex-cop’s profession is more complicated than spying on cheating spouses. Over the course of two years, Jake has battled demons, zombies, even a cosmic monster—and he has paid dearly, both physically and emotionally, for his exploits.
Now on a quest to save his best friend’s soul, Jake embarks on his greatest and most terrifying odyssey yet: from the streets of New Orleans to the nightclubs of Miami to the jungles of Pavot Island, where undead slaves harvest narcotics for a ferocious dictator.
But this time Jake isn’t alone. Maria Vasquez, a beautiful NYPD homicide detective, joins him to rescue her former partner. With no backup and limited resources, Jake and Maria battle voodoo overlords, military troops, and an army of zombies. What will prove deadlier to Jake: the addictive drug called Black Magic, the return of an old enemy, or a vengeful demon plotting against him? Tortured Spirits is an action-packed, gore-soaked, supernatural thrill ride that will leave horror fans gasping for Jake Helman’s return.”
This is my first read as part of the Jake Helman Series, and although Tortured Spirits is #4, the method of delivery gives enough for a newbie not to feel out of their depths or lost within the detail. The author, Gregory Lamberson, guides the reader around what Jake already knows teases us with glimpses of the past. Sufficient backstory at relevant stages never feels like an infer dump and made reading this rather comfortable.
Jake Helman is a maverick of a one-man-band whose style is admirable when being considerate, but highly expressive when he needs to deliver the smack on goons and zombies. Heck – did i just mention zombies? Indeed; Tortured Spirits is a Supernatural Crime novel, but don’t let the supernatural aspect put you off.
Back to Jake – he can be described as a James Bond (likes the ladies) crossed over with Nathan Drake (of Uncharted Games due to his sense of adventure) and a bit of mystery solving Columbo (the glass eye). Scenes of extensive dialogue, although sometimes difficult to follow as to who is speaking, are rich with personality and bring across the risks associated within the novel … like zombies … and hellacious witchcraft. A fun part was Jake’s relationship with Edgar, his friend who’s been turned into a Raven. Again, don’t be put off by the supernatural aspect, because the human nature of caring for and carrying the bird around everywhere that he goes was a nice touch.
My only criticism is in places I received too much detail about the clothing Jake wore, and that zombies are referred to as zonbies. It takes some getting used to.
The crux of the novel is how Jake finds himself having to uncover a plot to save a man he cares little about in exchange for a solution to return the Raven back into Edgar (human form). What follows is gore of immense blood-appeal with scenes that will have you turning quicker than you can make contact with the page. Take out the supernatural aspect and this novel possesses a guest cop chase of uncovering crime, and some of the exchanges between the good and the bad took me back into top shows like NYPD and CSI. This isn’t your average Buffy – let’s grab some holy water and down these zombies – oh no, Jake needs to be cunning to win and … survive. Believe me, the author puts Jake is some gut-wrenching situations.
Gregory delivers a well written novel that is worthy of a read by any Crime/Thriller enthusiast, and adds his own spin on age-old notions; like using DNA from simply handing over a business card to place Jake under the control of witchcraft.
Overall, the world created and the glimpses into past events makes me want to read the previous entries to the series.
Tortured Spirits by Gregory Lamberson is available now.