In Weech’s debut supernatural thriller, an empathetic soul collector must stop one of his own from reaping dark souls and committing murder.
Bob Drifter is a typical Arizona substitute teacher—except for the fact that he’s a 338-year-old Journeyman. When a person is near death, Bob can transport his or her soul to the afterlife. He keeps a low profile, but it turns out that police Sgt. Richard Hertly is on the verge of connecting him to a few recent deaths, as witnesses in each case describe a stranger nearby. Richard and his partner, Detective Kyle LeShea, soon link Bob to a hospital death from his fingerprint, and Richard becomes determined to prove that Bob’s a murderer; he even follows Bob when he takes a new job in New York state. Meanwhile, Bob and his fellow Journeymen search for Grimm, a rogue collector who waits for souls to “sour” and become “Blacksouls.” Journeymen don’t have the ability to kill humans, but Grimm, with his Blacksoul-derived power, is dead set on finding a way. The novel is split into three parts that feel like separate short stories, though Bob and the antagonistic Grimm are always at their centers. The first is the most riveting, despite the fact that it has the least amount of action. It introduces Bob as a compassionate man who’s clearly only transporting souls out of necessity; other characters, and the narrative itself, describe the pain he feels when he watches people die. He also tutors a student named David, befriending the boy and his family for reasons that readers will likely surmise. Despite the book’s title, and its narrative device of recurring journal entries, the remaining two parts offer relatively little insight into Bob, instead concentrating on the Journeymen’s frequent, violent encounters with Grimm. That said, the novel does treat readers to laudable characters, such as Bob’s mentor and friend, Drisc. He’s a member of the Council, which tries to establish rules for Journeymen, and holds meetings in a bowling alley. Bob also has a chance at love with a photographer named Patience, and because she’s a mere mortal, the melodramatic possibilities abound. Bob eventually shows a few additional abilities, too; for example, he can “Manipulate” emotions or ease others’ pain. The ending leaves the door open for future sequels.
An often engaging supernatural thriller with an immortal protagonist with meritorious human traits.