Barry Reese

Pulp Writer Extraordinaire

IMG_6662A lengthy review of The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One was posted at Amazon by Wojtek. Let’s have a look at what he said:

The Peregrine is a character I was interested for quite some time due to his appearances in other Barry Reese’s books.

A mysterious gun toting vigilante butting heads with Lazarus Gray, kinda-sorta mentor figure to the newest Gravedigger with hints of the dark past, and supernatural powers… Unfortunately actually getting books starring him (Under his old identity “The Rook”) was nearly impossible to me, due to the fact, that shipping rates to Eastern Europe would slaughter my ever-empty wallet, and ebooks were sadly unavailable, leaving me with insatiable hunger.

And then a miracle happened, and an omnibus appeared, screaming to me to buy it. And how I could say no? And it was worth every dollar, even when taking some minor flaws into account.

But let’s start with the most important thing in every Pulp: The Hero himself.

Our costumed vigilante is Max Davies, an only son of the press magnate from Boston, Warren Davies. After witnessing his father being murdered by a contract killer hired by the mob, who wanted to silence the articles exposing their crimes in Warren Senior’s newspaper at the age of eight, young Max begins to experience splitting headaches, and vivid, chaotic visions.

Startled he realizes that those visions actually show him crimes that would be committed in future. After years of helplessly witnessing murders, rapes, kidnappings etc, now adult Max decides to do something about it, to honor the memory of his father, and preserve his own sanity.

Young socialite travels around the world for several years, learning various exotic disciplines, and honing his body into a perfect weapon, training martial arts, acrobatics, shooting etc, under various mysterious masters. When Max decides he’s ready he returns to America and begins his career as a vigilante named The Peregrine.

Soon enough masked avenger becomes the scourge of the underworld, and his trademark calling card with a stylized black bird on it rouses fear from the criminals, and fascination from media, and average citizens. On the other hand, police does not approve of his violent methods, considering The Peregrine to be nothing more than a common murderer, and fruitlessly trying to capture him.

Even though police can’t capture our vigilante, he becomes careless and soon enough Max comes under suspicion. He manages to fool the detectives, but decides it’s time for change of scenery. When we meet him, he’s just moved to Atlanta, deciding to leave his violent mission behind, and finally enjoy some peace and quiet.

Unfortunately for him (But very fortunately for the readers…) he is soon dragged into another case, when a party he attends is attacked by a group of… zombies. It turns out that the attack of the undead was just a distraction, to get a rare occult book from the host’s collection, a book that according to legends is a source of great mythical power…

Returning to business Max/Peregrine would cross blades not only with gangsters and occultists, but also vampires, ancient gods, warlocks, Nazis and few people from his turbulent past he would rather forget.

At first glance The Peregrine is an obvious homage to the classic characters like The Shadow, The Spider, and even bits and pieces of Batman, but it soon becomes apparent that Mr Reese used those familiar, and kinda boring elements to create something new, and fresh.

On one hand Max Davies only wants to honor his father’s memory and to control his mysterious “gift”, but he notices that this mission had devoured his private life, making The Peregrine more real, than he himself is. Also, while Peregrine has no problem with using lethal force against his enemies, lately mysterious Voice that he hears in his visions began to encourage him to be even more brutal, making him wonder if he would still be able to hold to his morals if it continues.

Unexpectedly he finds much needed help in form of Evelyn Gould, a young B-class actress he meets on the fateful party mentioned before. Soon she becomes not only Peregrine’s confidante and aide, but also Max’s lover and later wife.

During his quest Peregrine is also aided by the members of an elite club known as Nova Alliance. It’s members are other heroes and adventurers very familiar for Pulp lovers, for example stone-faced master of disguise Richard Benson a.k.a The Avenger, mysterious Domino Lady, or Russian-born superhuman Leonid Kaslov.

First omnibus of the series consists of seventeen stories in which Peregrine would face off with an occultist and necromancer trying to bring Satan to the human world using the artifact known as Lucifer’s Cage (Lucifer’s Cage”), stop a vampire cult of Nyarlathotep worshipers trying to create a new world ruled by undead (“Kingdom of Blood”), try to catch a modern Robin Hood-like figure called The Moon Man (“The Gasping Death”), confront his old teacher; Warlike Manchu who joined forces with an immortal Egyptian priest in trying to control a legendary monster (“Abominations”), battles a team of Nazi superhumans (“Iron Maiden”, “Three Skulls”, “Catalyst”), and matches his wits against first Pulp supervillain, Doctor Satan (“Bleeding Hells”).

In other words its a box filled with good old Pulp climate, but with a modern twist, that should satisfy fans of the classic 30’s and 40’s books, as well as the inexperienced readers of the genre, mainly thanks to Barry Reese’s writing style.

It’s dynamic, detailed and keeps You glued to the book until You end it, but at the same time leaving the reader wanting for more. It masterfully draws upon classic over the top Pulp style, but stops at the right place before it becomes grotesque, and overdone, instead modernizing it without losing it’s spirit.

IMO some elements are bit too graphic, bordering at disturbing, mainly “The Kingdom of Blood” and “Bloodwerks”, but since Mr Reese managed to affect a hardened gore fan like me it only speaks about his skill with the words, I guess…

I also felt, that the first volume of Peregrine’s adventures kinda lacks the connection to the wider Sovereign City universe. Despite knowing that Max’s adventures are the part of the franchise I felt it was disconnected from it. Our hero never visits Sovereign, nor he meets any other heroes like Fortune McCall, Doc Daye, or Lazarus Gray.

Only link between the books would be Leopold Grace, a patriarch of the Grace Family prominent in the Sovereign verse, but it’s a bit too little for me… Not that it makes “Peregrine Omnibus Vol.01” bad, but to me it was sort of missed opportunity. But that’s just nitpicking I guess.

However there is one big problem I have with this book.

It’s editor should be sent to Bloodwerks for a few weeks of fun, then left in tender mercies of Doctor Satan, hurled into Bleeding Hells, and then fed to The Shambling Ones, because Kindle version is one of the most sloppy edited books I had ever seen.

Avalanche of typos, disregard of grammar, disjointed layout, or simple mistakes, for example in “The Iron Maiden” Max is called “The Rook” once, even though he was renamed… It really does the book a great disservice, because it’s hard to fully enjoy author’s skills, when some butcher ruins it every few sentences.

And I am not even a native speaker, so for a person who uses English as a first language it would probably be even more painful.

But even with editor’s incompetence “Peregrine Omnibus Volume One” is a great read for any Pulp fan, or people who like well written, entertaining action adventure books. Coupled with a reasonable price I can really see no reason not to buy it.

So, give The Peregrine a chance, he really deserves it.

First, let me thank you for the lengthy review. The editing aspect – you may want to re-download the Kindle version as I know there have been later versions uploaded by Pro Se that have addressed the issues you cited. In my print edition that I have next to me right now, I think the editing is pretty tight!

Those Peregrine stories were written years before I created Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger so hopefully my writing style has evolved and the universe as a whole has grown tighter. You can definitely see me trying to find my way in those early days.

Again, thanks for the great review!

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