The story follows Jake Hellman an accomplished NYPD police officer searching for a serial killer known as the Cipher. After a random shooting unrelated to this case Jake is forced to confront both his own demons, and those that walk the world.
“First the blade sliced through the darkness, then through the soft flesh of Shannon’s throat.”
The Jake Helman Files Personal Demons combines, police procedural, noir, supernatural horror and genetic engineering elements together. While this mish mash has no right to work, it does. Lamberson’s love of these elements oozes through every page. Despite the clichéd trappings that would threaten such an ambitious novel, they are evaded with a perfect grace, as the narrative rockets forward. The central characters are fully developed complex people, this helps the reader suspend belief at the fantastical elements of the plot. The only exceptions are the Cipher’s plot propelling victims. While the first few kill sequences evoke a great amount of tension, later they bog down the flow. Lamberson is trying hard to get his reader to form an attachment to these victims, but we recognize the pattern soon and distance ourselves from these numerous fodder characters. This is the only complaint I have about the novel.
Jake Helman is a phenomenally realized protagonist deserving of a series. I am often leery of horror series with a clear central character. It is hard to keep tension, when I know Jake survives to the second book. Lamberson handles this by making his reader care about what Jake does. Jake’s motives are not survival, it is helping those who need and him and developing as a person.
In the end;
Gregory Lamberson writes for horror fans because he clearly is one and respects them. He masterfully includes all the elements we as fans have come to love with a reverence and respect. Jake Helman’s Personal Demons is a terrific read. I highly recommend it to anyone who is searching for characters with heart, thrown into all the genre trappings we love.