September 26, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

gripDeathgrip by Brian Hodge


Paul Handler, a DJ in St. Louis, learns that he has the ability to heal people after witnessing a horrible act of violence on a remote broadcast. After discreetly performing healings all over St. Louis, he discovers that his gift has a dark side, as random moments of anger reveal that he can also do harm to people. Struggling with the morality of such an ability, he seeks out the advice of a faith healer to help him manage what he can do. Instead, he finds a hidden cabal that has been looking for someone like Paul for a long time.

Like Hodge’s other works, Deathgrip shines due to its characterization. He creates believable characters (though the antagonist here is a little overblown), and it helps keep the reader moving along. That’s good, because Deathgrip doesn’t have the punch of Nightlife or other works of his.

The story feels a little disjointed, partly because Hodge has his main character give up one life to pursue another. By the time we’re invested in the first life, we’re uprooted and taken to the next one, with all previous characters dropped and forgotten for the new ones. If that were the point of the novel, it might have been easier to accept, but the point is Paul’s abilities, and it didn’t feel like a natural progression of the plot.

It also doesn’t help that Hodge creates a lengthy backstory to explain why Paul has these healing abilities. To his credit, Hodge doesn’t make it an info-dump, but breaks it apart over parts of the book so we’re not taken too far out of Paul’s life to see what happens. Instead, though, the explanation doesn’t seem necessary. That Paul has the ability seems to be reason enough, but without that, then the character of Gabe doesn’t make much sense. Besides all that, the explanation doesn’t feel sufficient. It works well enough, but it’s not like it’s some clever revelation that will amaze the readers; it just feels pedestrian.

I like Hodge well enough, and I think his style is natural and compelling, but Deathgrip doesn’t have a lot of OOMPH behind it. For an Abyss book, it’s above average, but it doesn’t have the same kind of profound effect Tem, Koja, or even Tuttle bring to the imprint. Deathgrip just feels like a trunk book, which is even more unfortunate when you realize this is his fourth novel.

Started: August 31, 2018
Finished: September 23, 2018

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