Congregations of the Dead by James A Moore and Charles Rutledge is part Jack Reacher thriller, part episode of Supernatural. Explosive, compelling, and with break-neck pacing, it’s set in the small town of Wellman, Georgia, in the middle of a heat wave, where underage sex trafficking turns out to be the lesser of two evils for Sheriff Carl Price and private investigator friend Wade Griffin. The mysterious Reverend Cotton has turned up to spread his own brand of gospel in the southern town.
There are simply no excuses for not picking up this book. Congregations of the Dead is a no-brainer, a no-buts read.
But I don’t like graphic violence.
So you like a good dose of dark fiction, but aren’t so keen on viscera and body fluids? Then this is the book for you. In Congregations of the Dead, the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed, and the cuts, when they land, are clean and quick.
But I prefer my stories to be character driven.
Yes, this book is full-on adrenalin-pumping action ‒ explosions, bar fights, home invasions, and the odd long sword, exactly the kind of story we’ve come to expect from Cohesion ‒ but that doesn’t mean the main characters are the superficial muscle of a Vegas all-male revue. Not at all. Moore and Rutledge’s heroes come with all the baggage of ordinary folk, like manipulating ex-wives, not-so-supportive bosses, and a re-election campaign to get sorted.
But it’s a vampire story.
Rest assured, there are no sparkly ones. Moore and Rutledge have done their research, touching on all the old vampire tropes and yet still managing to come up with something fresher than newly-spilled blood.
But I haven’t read the previous Price and Griffin novel.
I hadn’t either. It doesn’t matter. The story stands on its own, with all the dark magic and backstory woven artfully into the narrative. So you haven’t met Carl Price and Wade Griffin before? A couple of chapters in and they already feel like old friends, the kind you want in your corner when the shit hits the fan.
But just look at it. That’s a fricking scary cover.
In the small town of Wellman, Georgia, Sheriff Carl Price wants nothing more than to ticket speedsters and stop drunks from killing each other in the local bars. Unfortunately, things aren’t working out for a simple life. His best friend, private investigator Wade Griffin, has taken on a case he normally wouldn’t, to try and build his P.I. business and get out of the mercenary game, which leads to trouble with a major regional crime boss. With a missing teenager and a child abduction to solve, and tension brewing from the other-worldly Blackbourne clan, Griffin and Price have their hands full. But something dark rears its head in the form of a new mountain church and its mysterious and charismatic leader, Reverend Lazarus Cotton. Once more, Griffin and Price must use the deadly skills learnt in their past, and call upon even deadlier associates when the problems escalate out of their control. This book is a redneck adventure-horror of the darkest kind. In the small town of Wellman, Georgia, it’s a damn hot summer.