DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

F. Paul Wilson and Steve Lyon
Tor/304 pp./$13.95
ISBN 0-312-85910-4

Reviewed by Hank Wagner

[This action/adventure thriller isn't really horror, but it is still darkly recommended.]

With seventeen kills to his name, Jake Nacht is one of the mob's most reliable hitmen -- he'll kill anyone if the price is right. Thus, he accepts a contract on a US Senator, despite his misgivings about having to do the job at a particular time and place. Nacht prepares carefully, but has to hurry his shot when he hears the police knocking on his hotel room door. Thinking quickly, Nacht almost escapes, but is gunned down by an officer who obviously knows who he is.

Paralyzed from the neck down, Nacht wants only to end his existence, but cannot do it alone. He strikes a desperate bargain with his nurse, Angela Graham, who reluctantly promises to assist his suicide if Nacht's physical rehabilitation is unsuccessful. Nacht gives it his all, but shows little improvements after four months. Having fulfilled his end of the bargain, Nacht wants to hold Angela to her promise, but she has different ideas. Angela implores Jake to participate in an experiment conducted by her uncle, a scientist who wants to test spinal regeneration techniques on humans. Intrigued by the possibility of recovery and revenge on the men who set him up, Nacht agrees.

Jake is healed by the process, but does not know if the effects are permanent. Since his time may be short, he immediately embarks on a campaign of vengeance, halting only when Angela is kidnapped in retaliation. Jake must meet his enemies on their own ground if he is to save Angela and have his revenge.

Nightkill does not break any new ground, but is a good, solid read, several notches above typical action/adventure fare. Wilson and Lyon (a.k.a. Steven Spruill) take great pains to create a believable, engrossing backstory for Nacht, which metamorphosizes into a homage to the movie The Most Dangerous Game. Although Nacht's history is often more interesting than the action of the main story, it never totally eclipses it--the authors skillfully bring the novel to an explosive conclusion, providing ample thrills and drama along the way . Reminiscent of Stephen Hunter's novel Point of Impact and the Steven Seagal movie Hard to Kill, Nightkill is fast moving and hard hitting, a respectful tribute to the men's action/adventure genre. -- Hank Wagner

Guest reviewer Hank Wagner, always a prolific reader, is also one of the most prolific reviewers in horror. He has been the chief reviewer for the Overlook Connection Catalog, has reviewed for the DarkEcho newsletter, Cemetery Dance, Horror, Nova Express, Wetbones, and for many other publications.

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