01/02/2011. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: AuthorHouse. 262 page hardback. Price: $15.49 (US), GBP 17.28 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-4520-1818-8).
check out website: www.hagoodman.com
‘Logic Of Demons’ is the first novel by Hal Goodman. The story is about a young man named Devin who loses his wife and unborn child in a tragic manner. Torn by grief over his loss, Devin brutally murders the man responsible and then fails to surrender to the police. They kill him and Devin ends up in what he thinks is Hell. It is not, he is in the offices of The Company. There, Devin is recruited by demons to sell The Formula to a young, teenage girl named Nadine Marin. If he succeeds in this task, he will be reunited with his wife.
In order to sell this formula successfully, Devin will need practice and so he sets off on a series of ‘warm-up’ efforts. Meanwhile, the narrative switches to that of Nadine, giving us a glimpse of a person who might require The Formula and of the soul Devin will try to save. The Formula, by the way, is what allowed a seemingly normal young man (however wracked by grief) to stab his wife’s murderer fifty times.
This plot, the concept of various denizens of heaven and hell, the places in between and the meddling with the living, is an interesting one and is what enticed me to read this book. I enjoyed meeting Templeton and the Boss. Despite Devin’s obvious fear, it was amusing to see what the author did with those characters. In fact, they bordered on the absurd, which felt about right for a different plane of existence.
Goodman’s writing is quite good and he communicates his ideas well. His book suffers from the lack of a good editor, however. The pacing of his narrative is off in parts, either too fast or too slow. For instance, the funeral for Devin’s wife is covered in quite a lot of detail, but the conversion of his grief to rage only takes a page or so and a phone call to a very cliché drug dealer. Devin’s connection to the drug dealer and the seedier side of life seemed tenuous at best and not involved enough to allow him the sort of information he gained from a simple phone call. He then flies off the handle and brutally murders someone. Grief is a good motivator, certainly, the transition was a little jarring.
In all, I think the book could easily have been fifty to one hundred pages longer had proper attention been paid to some key scenes, such as that transition from grief to rage at the end of the funeral. A little more background on how Devin had managed to track down his wife’s killer for instance or how a nice young man connected with drug dealers and the like.
A lot of the author’s characterizations come off as quite formulaic (Nadine herself and the first family Devin visits in an effort to sell The Formula) and there are numerous oddities, such as the inclusion of numerical digits within the text to describe an age or weight instead of spelling the number out. The inclusion of Devin’s weight felt unnatural to the flow of the narrative (I did not need to know it) and the digits stood out against the text.
Another area Goodman should pay attention to is research, a thankless but important task. If an author does it, the reader often will not be able to tell the difference. This is because the facts and figures and assumptions are correct. They become a part of the fabric of the expected and do not jar the reader from a state of absorption. When the research is not adequate, however, those little details can knock a reader right out of immersion. This happened to me time and again throughout this book. One instance would be the author’s insistence on calling Nadine’s sketches and art ‘anime’, a term commonly used to refer to Japanese anime as in ‘animated’ produced for television. In essence, it’s a cartoon, the source material might be a comic strip or book or, in Japan, a form of literature known as manga, the term Goodman was looking for to describe Nadine’s artwork. There are other such instances of poor research within the novel.
Hal Goodman has a good idea here and an interesting plot. With a little extra effort and attention to detail, I believe he could reach a much wider audience and gain interest in any follow-up adventures.
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