Dead Man’s Song is the second book in the Pine Deep Trilogy by Jonathan Maberry and for the “bridge book” as I like the call the second book in a trilogy (I, and I alone I’M SURE ha ha) was balls to the wall excitement. It’s only about two weeks after the initial book takes place. We have the same cast of characters: Crow and Val bound together by love and also by a horrible event that occurred 30 years ago now known as the Pine Deep Massacre; the event where Crow lost a brother, the Bone Man was found crucified on Val’s farm and sixteen other people were killed. Terry Wolfe, the mayor (and Crow and Val’s friend) who is going insane due to the fact that his sister who has been dead for 30 years is telling him to kill himself for the sake of everyone in Pine Deep. He’s beginning to believe her, as he feels his bones moving and shifting beneath his skin. Mike, the young boy who is a unknowing pawn in this face off between good and evil. He too, is undergoing a metamorphosis that is only now just beginning, although he has no idea. We also have Vic, Mike’s step-father and worshiper of The Man. Vic’s responsible for setting all the evil plans in motion in Pine Deep and works closely with The Man. He follows his commands and enjoys lording over these new, dark and undead creatures who then execute them (by the way, what could possibly go wrong with that set up?!?). And finally (although there are a ton of other characters) there’s Saul, the medical examiner who begins drinking, becomes paranoid, taking refuge in his home; shuttering his windows and hanging fragrant flowers on them after some of his most recent (and medically impossible) discoveries in the morgue.
The dead just can’t stay dead in Pine Deep. Karl Ruger’s body, (the killer criminal that plagued the town and was taken down in a stream of bullets not once, but twice by Crow and Val in book one) has been stolen from the morgue, but he’s not as dead as we thought he was. Instead, now he’s doing the work of The Man and recruiting/turning Pine Deep citizens as we inch closer towards Halloween and an epic battle between good and evil. These creatures are truly terrifying particularly because we only get shadowy descriptions of what they turning into aside from the descriptions of rows and rows AND rows of razor sharp teeth that fill their dead mouths.
While Pine Deep (the spookiest town in North America!) edges closer to celebrating Little Halloween (an event that occurs when there’s a Friday the 13th in October), Crow needs answers. Why would Karl Ruger, a man who had never been to Pine Deep grab him and tell him, “Ubel Griswold sends his regards?” Crow knows in his heart that Ubel Griswold is the monster responsible for the Pine Deep Massacre and for the brutal murder of his brother. Crow needs answers and unlike myself (because I’m all about self preservation), goes searching for them on Ubel Griswold’s farm, now reclaimed by the wild, dark forest. Meanwhile, Val and her sister in law deal with something searching for them…while Crow’s gone.
This book was amazing! It’s more of a slow burn than the first book but when reading it, one can feel the gears shifting and plots locking into place. Evil’s there, but instead of taking the main stage (for most of the book), it’s the threat of what’s to come that is the true “bad guy”. While the reader has some idea of where things are going; the characters are just beginning to sense that there’s something truly evil growing, breeding and waiting in Pine Deep. Reading other reviews (because I couldn’t remember some of the characters’ names) pace was a problem for some readers and they didn’t enjoy the interludes where we see Crow and Val attempting to heal both physically and mentally from their insane altercations with Karl Ruger in the first book. I was actually very impressed to see such a extended, touching bath and love scene after all the rip-out-the-throat horror…I’m just kidding, I skimmed that chapter and thought it was super cool that Crow loved his lady so much and focused on her emotional and physical needs (really I did, Crow’s the man!) and then I moved on…because, I have blood lust, y’all! Knowing that Halloween is just around the corner for Pine Deep and the machinations of Ubel Griswold and the evil men who are doing his work seem inexorable, I’m curious how Crow, Val, Mike and the Ghost of the Bone Man will try and save Pine Deep (and the world?). I will be purchasing Bad Moon Rising immediately!