Two Kingsburg police officers have been butchered in an attack as ferocious as it is mystifying. Now two detectives and their families are being drawn into a battle that threatens to destroy them and those around them. In a marriage of horror and Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption, Dance on Fire is the fictional account of characters drawn into the fire by supernatural forces.
I'm pleased to have this talented writer blog with us on our weekly topic. Please read on to see who's work inspires this novelist to re-read books again and again.
“The body hung upside down from the ceiling by nails driven through both feet. The head was missing, the neck severed to expose vein and muscle, artery and bone in a circle of raw flesh. What was left of the man was still dressed in bright scarlet tunic of the Northwest Mounted Police, the arms with their sleeves decorated with gold braid, now dangling down toward the plank and sawdust floor. A pool of blood as red as the tunic spread out beneath the corpse. There was blood dripping from the tips of the dead man’s fingers but the splash of each drop as it hit the pool was drowned out by the slow, incessant, monotonous thud of a drum beating overhead. The drumbeat came from up on the roof beyond the trapdoor in the ceiling.
Wicked Writers and Readers, it was with this beginning that my worship of Michael Slade began.
Okay, perhaps worship is a bit much.
I find it difficult to believe that very few have heard of Michael Slade. I cannot think of one friend or acquaintance in my forty-one years who has confessed to being a fan. Since I began blogging this past February I have not seen his name mentioned once, nor have I seen any of his novels listed in any “favorites” category. I don’t know whether I can do much to correct this grievous omission, but I aim to make one hell of a shot at it.
There have been thirteen Special X thrillers: Headhunter, Ghoul, Cutthroat, Ripper, Evil Eye, Primal Scream, Burnt Bones, Hangman, Death’s Door, Bed of Nails, Swastika, Kamikaze and Red Snow.
Well, did I pique you interest yet? Consider the following:
“Would make de Sade wince.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Will raise hackles, eyebrows, and blood pressure everywhere…Give you real shock value for the money…the most gruesome I have ever read.” –Robert Bloch, author of Psycho.
“Slade is warped and I love it! He builds suspense like a Chinese water torture.” – Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.
How about now?
First of all, his name is not Michael Slade, but Jay Clarke. He has written with others, most notably his daughter Rebecca. He is a Vancouver-based trial lawyer, specializing in cases for the criminally insane. He writes about the Special X division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It is dark material because it exists in the real world. Because of his profession, he has no doubt seen the worst that there is. Yet, his writing is not splatter-porn. It isn’t Marilyn Manson. It doesn’t exist to make you sick or to push your boundaries. He simply takes you on a roller-coaster ride that will at times quicken your pulse; at others cause you to add another light to the room, rather than continue reading him in the dark; he will most definitely force you to spend more time checking that noise that you just heard.
If you thought Michael Crichton’s bibliographies were extensive, then you haven’t seen anything yet. Slade’s are often five pages long. He is well-read and well-researched, using history, forensics and science, extensively. He alludes to the most infamous serial killers of our time as he paints his own brutal and diabolical fiends; killers who take no prisoners and very often take out major and minor characters alike.
Just as Crichton had us accepting that dinosaurs could be brought back to life through DNA, Slade will have you believing that Jack the Ripper has come back from the dead. Like Dan Brown, he’ll have you flipping pages and, in fact, entire chapters, regardless of the late hour. And unlike any other, I guarantee that you will come back for more.
I really cannot believe that more people do not know about his body of work.
Headhunter by Michael Slade literally changed my world and helped to set me on the path that stands before me today. I recently began re-reading it and I cannot wait until this post is published, so that I can get right back to it.
I hope you will join me.
Thanks so much for joining us this week, James. Your enthusiasm for this series is clear - and if I can get past all the blood and gore, while still being able to sleep at night, then I'll be reading it soon (but if not, don't hold it against me. I get scared easily!)
Please check out James on Facebook and stop by to see his work as well.