Book review: Mister Slaughter by Robert McCammon
AUTHOR INFO: Robert Rick McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. Among his many popular novels were the classics Boy's Life and Swan Song. After taking a hiatus for his family, he returned to writing with an interest in historical fiction.
McCammon resides in Birmingham, Alabama. He is currently working on the eighth Matthew Corbett novel, The King of Shadows.
Publisher: Subterranean Press (February 2, 2010) Length: 440 pages
McCammon's Matthew Corbett series is brilliant. It's one of the finest series ever written. That's all you need to know. Of course, I'll be happy if you continue reading this review, but my job is done if you give the series a chance.
Mister Slaughter picks up a few months after the events pictured in The Queen of Bedlam. Matthew earns good money as a problem - solver, and he spends too much on fancy clothes and shoes. His vanity gets the better of him, and his selfish attitude has dire consequences.
Matthew and Hudson Greathouse escort a brutal murderer, Tyranthus Slaughter, to prison in Philadelphia. Tyranthus is vicious and cruel. His sharp intelligence and uncanny ability to "read" people and identify their weaknesses make him truly dangerous. He finds a way to tempt Matthew and Hudson. The outcome will leave scars on everyone involved. And a lot of corpses around.
The plot of Mister Slaughter is relatively simple and focuses on a brutal manhunt. But, of course, McCammon finds a way to enrich it with fascinating historical details and excellent characterization. Additionally, all the events, even small ones, set the stage for the following books in the series. Like Matthew's short stay with a tribe of Indians that will change Matthew's life in more ways than one.
Tyranthus Slaughter is genuinely terrifying, a psychopath who revels in inflicting pain on others. Butchering entire families or innocents makes him happy. He turns Matthew's life into chaos. Lessons learned during the gruesome chase through the jungle changed Matthew forever.
Without spoiling too much or speaking about specific scenes, McCammon is, for me, a true master of characterization. His vivid prose and perfect scene-setting (Tom and his dog, Matthew, and Hudson in the well) evoke unforgettable and powerful images of humanity at its best and its worst. Amazing writing.
If you wonder if you can start the series with Mister Slaughter, the answer is yes. But don't do it. You won't appreciate all details and won't get all the nuances. Also, why on earth would you devoid yourself of the pleasure of reading Speaks the Nightbird and Queen of Bedlam?
Mister Slaughter is a frenetically-paced and harrowing manhunt story with fantastic characterization and a terrifying villain. I've already read all available books in the series, and I'm reviewing them after completing all of them. It makes me appreciate McAmmon's brilliance even more.
Matthew Corbett is one of the finest series ever written. Period.