A Lengthy Review of Lazarus Gray Volume One

The Adventures of Lazarus GrayMark from Texas posted the following review on Goodreads. Here’s what he had to say about the first book in the Lazarus Gray series:

The Adventures of Lazarus Gray
Author: Barry Reese
Publisher: Pro Se Press
Published In: Batesville, AR, USA
Date: 2011
Pgs: 252


Welcome to Sovereign City. A man awakens with no memory of who he is or where he’s from. A medallion hangs from his neck with the name Lazarus Gray on it. He along with his cohorts in Assistance Unlimited help people in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The dark is rising. Mystic evil is coming. The man known as Lazarus Gray stands in the breach.

Crime fiction
Science fiction
Short stories
Urban fantasy

Why this book:
It’s Barry telling a story. I love when Barry tells stories.

The Girl with the Phantom Eyes:
Favorite Character:
The Aquaas. Love the concept of these little Cthulian horrors.

Least Favorite Character:
Walther Lunt. Mainly because

Character I Most Identified With:
Lazarus has a bit of the Mary Sue/deus ex machina about him. He’s everything that he needs to be. But he is the character that the reader is most likely to glom onto. I’m sure as his “secret” origin is revealed those shortcomings that I see in him will make sense. In this way, he is Sherlock Holmes, Hugo Danning, Doc Savage, Batman and Superman. And that’s not all bad.

The Feel:
Mr. Reese threw a “dark and stormy night” opening into this opening chapter of the Lazarus Gray chronicles, without saying “it was a dark and stormy night.” I tip my hat. Very well done.

Favorite Scene:
I could totally see this as a black and white, 20s/30s/40s era, crime noir movie with a supernatural tilt. Can just imagine the lightning in one of the Aquaas scenes. All black and shadow and a framed light hits the actress in the eyes as she stares at the next victim giving us the low budget special effect of a girl with glowing eyes.

Or a serial, a Lazarus Gray serial, this story could easily have been broken into six parts with a cliffhanger ending for each one. Pure gold.

The pace of the first act was slow, lots of exposition, lots of introduction, lots of world building, expected. The action that does happen is offscreen explained and exposited on afterwards. But when the kicker comes at the nadir of the first act, it is delicious.

Hmm Moments:
Love the lion staff. Totally glomming that for the next time I play D&D…whenever that may be.

Casting call:
I could totally see George Clooney as Lazarus Gray. Alec Baldwin wouldn’t be bad either, but he may have aged out of the role. I realize that they are within 5 years of one another. George just seems younger and more…robust. Course, I could see classic Hollywood actors in a lot of these roles as well.

Angus Scrimm as Walther Lunt. I know he’s in his 80s. But I love Angus and he could absolutely project the menace necessary for the role.

The Devil’s Bible:
Favorite Character:
Love the succubus/blood demon.

The Feel:
There’s a great 20s/30s detective movie feel with an Indiana Jones flair in some of this. Great stuff.

Favorite Scene:
Eun getting the drop on the ninja.

Hmm Moments:

Casting call:
Devon Aoki as Maya Shimada

The Corpse Screams at Midnight:
The Feel:
This one feels more Hammer film than hardboiled detective drama.

Favorite Scene:
The Mummy awakening in the flashback to the previous owner and the horror that followed on afterward.

The mummy fight at the museum.

Page turner.

Hmm Moments:
Love the Cult of the Mummy stuff.

The Burning Skull:
Favorite Character:
Mr. Skull sounds like an awesome villain. His origin is well done.

Sovereign City is every bit as much a character here as the Hawaiian Isles are in Hawaii 5-0 or as Basin City is for Frank Miller. She’s every city…at least the dark and grimy parts of every city.

Favorite Scene:
When Lunt thinking that he is going to unbalance Gray or pull him offsides or back to the dark side by laying out his cards and telling him what he knows of his past and Gray basically says, “I see”, and hangs up on him.

Hmm Moments:
“I think I may have made a terrible mistake.” – Walther Lunt

This story gives us the origin of Lazarus Gray and Mr. Skull. Greatness.

The Axeman of Sovereign City:
Favorite Character:
Sovereign City is a rich panoply of diverse characters; mob bosses, houngans, Nazis, etc. I can see the city in my mind’s eye; a dirty, dingy mix of the worst city Bogie’s characters ever crossed a rainy street in, with some Gotham, both New York and Batman’s, and some Sin City thrown in.

Monique and Dinkins, those two are a helluva piece of work.

Least Favorite Character:
Morgan and Samantha’s dancing around one another is a distraction. It robs both characters and the story flow.

The pace takes a bip every time we slip into a longing looks Morgan or Samantha moment.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:
Despite his promises to include them more, Lazarus continues to hold his team at arm’s length. Hopefully, the “go it alone” attitude that crops up in this story will give us a him on the end of a rescue from the other members of Assistance Unlimited.

Hmm Moments:
Mr. Dinkins unique heart condition is a great plot point.

Casting call:
Geoffrey Holder as Dinkins.

The God of Hate
Favorite Character:
Morgan Watts. The second he pulled the trigger on the thing in the box, great scene.

The Feel:
This is the best one of the set of shorts included here.

Favorite Scene:
When The Claw rises from the bed with the ladies of the evening scattered about him, secure in the knowledge that he has ruined them for the rest of their lives. It’s so horrible picturing that in your mind. For an alien monster, The Claw has a lot of carnal, abusive desires.

Morgan’s Paris adventure.

The fight with The Claw in the old abandoned church.

Hmm Moments:
The Claw’s invasion of the Assistance Unlimited HQ to deliver his challenge/warning to Eun.

Casting call:
What about Tom Hanks as Lazarus? I could see it being part his performance in Road to Perdition and part his performance in The Da Vinci Code.

Every time Eun appears on the page, it makes me wish that Bruce Lee was alive today.

Doug Jones as The Claw.

John Noble as Walther Lunt.

Josh Brolin as Morgan Watts.

Darkness, Spreading Its Wings of Black

The Feel:
Would have liked a more tender moment between Samantha Grace and Morgan Watts as he rescues her from the chains.

Favorite Scene:
The showdown in the basement

Probably the best paced of the stories in this volume.

Hmm Moments:
Love the idea of a Peregrine-Lazarus Gray team up.

Last Page Sound:
Well…that was nice. Wish Lazarus would have gotten the last word instead of the Peregrine, but still nice. More of a denouement with the Assistance Unlimited folks would have been appreciated.

Author Assessment:
I love Barry Reese’s work.

A hero is defined by his villains. Barry gives Lazarus Gray some great ones here.

Editorial Assessment:
A physical spell check in Darkness, Spreading Its Wings of Black would have been good, ie: made scientist.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
glad I read it

Disposition of Book:

Would recommend to:
friends, genre fans

Thanks for the in-depth review and analysis, Mark! Much appreciated.

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