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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Down Among The Dead Men by Craig Schaefer (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Pre-order Down Among The Dead Men over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Long Way Down 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The White Gold Score 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Redemption Song 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Living End 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Plain-Dealing Villain
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Killing Floor Blues
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Castle Doctrine
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Double Or Nothing
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Neon Boneyard
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Locust Job
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Sworn To The Night
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Detonation Boulevard
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Winter's Reach 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Instruments Of Control 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Harmony Black
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Red Knight Falling
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Glass Predator
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Cold Spectrum
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Right To The Kill
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Black Tie Required
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ghosts Of Gotham
Read Fantasy Book Critic' review of A Time For Witches
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Loot
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Insider
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Any Minor World
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Heather Schaefer was born in Chicago and wanted to be a writer since a very young age. Her writing was inspired by Elmore Leonard, Richard Stark, Clive Barker & H. P. LovecraftSoon after her 40th birthday, she decided to give in to her passion and since then has released close to thirty novels spread out over seven series. Craig Schaefer is her favoured nom de plume. Heather currently lives in North Carolina and loves visiting museums and libraries for inspiration.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Daniel Faust’s last heist ended with a betrayal, a bullet in his heart, and a plunge from a lonely back-country bridge. Now he’s on life support, and the occult relic keeping him tethered to this world is counting down the last seconds to midnight.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, he just woke up in hell.

Marooned, lost, and hunted in an endless city of the damned, Daniel is racing against time. If he can’t make it back to his body before the clock runs out, he’ll be trapped in the netherworld forever. A host of enemies stand in his way. Some are desperate to silence him. Others, ghosts etched in blood and gun-smoke, are hungry for payback. Hell is the one place where you can never outrun your past.

And in the land of the living, Daniel’s family and crew gather to mount a desperate defense around his hospital bed as assassins close in from all sides. Survival will take a miracle, but this magician might have one last trick up his sleeve.

FORMAT/INFO: Down Among The Dead Men is 320 pages long divided over forty-four chapters, and an afterword. Narration is in the first-person, via Daniel Faust and third person via Jennifer Juniper & a few other characters. This is the tenth volume of the Daniel Faust series.

July 22nd, 2022 will mark the North American paperback and e-book publication of Down Among The Dead Men and it is being self-published by the author.  Cover design is by James T. Egan.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Down Among The Dead Men is the long awaited start to the fourth arc in the Daniel Faust series. When we last met Faust in The Locust Job, he was busy pulling off the most dangerous job of his entire career. However the way the story ended, the climax left all fans wondering what would happen next. Finally, after two horridly long years, we have the next volume and I could not wait to jump in and see what the devious author has planned for the reader and Faust.

The story begins with Daniel waking up in a unique location that’s been only discussed so far and it is one Hell of a place. Marooned in a completely, alien-esque territory, Faust has to figure what’s what and who he can trust. Over in the land of the living, Jennifer and the rest of Daniel’s family have transported his comatose body to a hospital and have commandeered a fort Knox like situation. However, they don’t hold all the aces as they don’t quite know who caused this horrible scenario. Overall, this book has an incredible premise and the author delivers fittingly.

Heather Schaefer is an absolute beast when it comes to writing terrific thrillers laced with horror, dark fantasy and superb characters. This book is (again) no exception and one thing that I have to highlight is how amazingly dark, creepy and horrific her descriptions for Lucifer’s homeworld are. As a reader, it was so much fun to explore Hell through Daniel’s eyes as the character doesn’t really get to have any fun. Hell has been sparsely described in the previous nine volumes and here we get to see quite a fair bit. Beginning from a sprawling Megapolis that has been cannibalized by gangs lead by the worst of humanity. There are famous people who make cameos that might bring a chuckle or a sjake of the head depending on your historical insights. The highlight was the number of TV channels to be found in hell and what is broadcast on them. Lastly, quite a few of Faust’s enemies make a reappearance and it was a thrill to read about them locking horns with Faust again.

The plot features dual timelines and I loved how streamlined they both were. The pace is off the charts and sometimes I wish the author had slowed it down to highlight more of the world and hospital standoff scenario. That is how fantastic it was and yet as a reader, I wanted more. It is a distinct quality of Heather’s writing that as a reader, each time we are given a higher zenith to expect for the future books. It is no different here. After the brilliance showcased within DATDM, I can hardly wait for Never Send Roses (the next Harmony Black book) as well as the next Faust title.

Another aspect of this book that is thrilling for the readers is that it focusses on one of my favourite side characters Baron Navaarasi. She has been a fascinating antagonist/potential frenemy for Faust and in this volume, we get a terrifying inkling of one aspect of her plans. The magnificent cover is another hint about it. However she’s most absent from the pages but her terror and ruthlessness is spread all over the story. She and the Enemy are turning out to the major antagonists for this arc and I cannot wait to see the true extent of Navaarasi’s grand plan(s). I have to highlight the Enemy-Paladin ongoing storyline gets another small teaser within this and that looks to be the major event looming ahead.

The cover as always is a banger! James T. Egan has absolutely understood the core concept of this series and every cover of his is one more step in the upward ascent similar to the books. The action found within the story is a bit more horrific than usual and considering this is Hell after all. Some fans need to prepare themselves mentally about the Mad Max-like style of cretins to be found within.

Lastly, for any drawbacks, they are so miniscule that I feel foolish even to point them out. Primarily (as I mentioned before), I wanted this book to be longer because the worldbuilding was so enthralling. The end sequence is such a nail-biting one and a particular thing happens whose resolution we do not get to witness. As a reader, I felt robbed and I sincerely with it was cleared up but then again it makes sense from the way it is presented (a POV character being unconscious and quickly taken far away). These are very small nitpicks from a fan of the series as again we have been spoiled from the author’s magnificent storytelling prowess.
CONCLUSION: Down Among The Dead Men is a phenomenal thriller that mashes together various fascinating aspects of Mad Max, Under Siege, & Behind Enemy Lines. It does these things successfully and once again highlights how amazing a writer Heather is and how incredible the Daniel Faust series is. As a reader and a fan, this title bowled me over and once again, I’m left waiting desperately for the next amazing thing that the author plans to release.



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