Sunday, July 24, 2011

Read: "Valley of Lights" by Stephen Gallagher

Read: Valley of Lights by Stephen Gallagher, 1987, 0450406644.

I saw new eBook edition of this promoted on Bill Crider's blog. I read that it had a Phoenix setting and got interested. Although I did not completely enjoy my years in the Valley I am still quite interested in what it was like before the massive building and population boom of the '90s and '00s.

As I was reading the first part of this I was thinking, "This is good, it's been a while since I read a police procedural - especially with a patrol cop as antagonist." Then I got to the horror part of the novel and thought, "Crap, this is just like that movie, The Fallen." Fortunately, it did not follow the exact same plot as the flick. I liked the flick.

Patrol Sergeant Alex Volchak is a workaholic for Phoenix PD. He takes a welfare call to a local motel where he finds three guys that seem comatose. He figures they are drugged. The guy who rented the room shows up, sees the cops, drops his bag full of baby food, Alex loses the guy in a foot chase. The guy must have been feeding the comatose people the baby food.

Alex is not a detective and does not pursue cases like this. But, since he wakes early and cannot get to sleep he heads to a place he figures the guy might be. Alex finds guy, guy takes off, guy falls off a truck bed. Alex asks guy why he ran, guy says, "I don't like questions," then dies. At approximately the same time one of the comatose, and diagnosed brain dead, guys walks out of the hospital.

Turns out the bad guy is a demon of sorts. Demon has lived a thousand years or so and likes to kill young people. Alex figures this out and is able to follow the latest body for the demon to inhabit. He tracks the latest body and is stopped from killing him. Things happen. Alex and female trailer-park-neighbor get hot and heavy. Alex explains his theory to her. Neighbor freaks and bolts. Demon runs neighbor off the road and kidnaps her daughter. Alex has to figure out how to stop demon and rescue girl.

1. I liked this. Alex was a good narrator. A workaholic since his wife died and able to figure things out.
2. Colt Detective Special love.
3. Jeep Renegade love.
4. Urban squalor of Phoenix love.
5. 1984 goodness: no cell phones, no freeways in Phoenix, still a lot of desert separating communities.
6. Well told and plotted. How will Alex catch the demon? He gets him once but the demon lucks out and finds a freshly dead person; Alex is then in another bind when demon starts to play with Alex.
7. I wonder if a producer bought the rights to this? IMDB had no listing for Gallagher or novel title under entry for Fallen. If not, did Gallagher sue? Scott Phillips said suing over a concept can cause more hurt than winning could help.

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