Catch My Killer: The First Sam Truman Mystery by Ed Kurtz

First off, anyone who’s anyone knows I have a literary hard-on for Kurtz’s writing style. The man has a flow that just leaves me humming like a lady in a Billy Idol song (wanting more more more, for those of you who live under a rock). But how the hell was I to know that he’d be throwing down with a hardboiled/horror crossover when I read Bleed and Rust & Blood?

I had no freakin’ clue. But damn was I excited to see what this man might pull out of his hat next.

From the first word of this series hitting the streets I was sold on it. But truth be told, I can also tell you that the potential for this venture scared the shit out of me. Here’s an author that I admire; two genres that I adore; and a whole lot of “what the hell is gonna happen if I hate this?” roaming around in my head. It made for some semi (but only figuratively) sleepless nights in camp-Colum-land, I’ll tell ya.

But goddamn was I happy when I cracked this sucker open and read the first few “pages” (I’ll explain my hatred of the Kindle “pages” some other time, dear reader). Not only does Kurtz’s style survive the time travel to the 1960s, but it almost seems like it belongs there. The man can throw his punches in different eras, folks. At the end of this little novella, I was left stoked and (again) jonesing more. It’s a good thing this series is planned to go on for a while, cause I haven’t had enough yet.

Sam Truman is a disgraced and unlicensed former private investigator without a proverbial pot to piss in. During a morning mission to scrape up enough bread to pay his rent at the flophouse, Sam intervenes in an attempted armed robbery and ends up shooting the thief to death with a gun he isn’t legally permitted to possess. In the aftermath of the shooting, Sam is visited by the bloody corpse of the dead robber, which is now being inhabited by the spirit of a murdered woman who charges Sam with the task of solving her murder.

Now Sam is up to his neck in a dark underworld of walking corpses, black magic, and Hell’s own army, and all because he agreed to a dead woman’s plea to “Catch My Killer!

- from amazon.com

This premise sounds very familiar if you’re a frequent flier in the mystery or serial detective stories of yesteryear. The main difference here is… well… it’s modernized, but it’s also a throwback. Let me explain that statement.

Kurtz does everything he can to set the tone and the vibe to match the era this story plays out in, but does so with today’s yearn for action, description, and flamboyant characters. As a character, Truman is truly a force to be reckoned with, but also shows a side that can be completely pitiable, and often times even laughable. Kurtz, while obviously caring deeply for his character on many levels, doesn’t shy away from kicking the crap out of him. I really haven’t seen a character this complex or likable in this sort of genre mash up since Lamberson’s Jake Helman Files, or Oliveri’s The Pack: Winter Kill.

Truman is a down and dirty ass-kicker with an attitude and set of skills that will make most envy his complete make up. I wish I had come up with this character. I really do. I’m envious as hell, and feel as if a new bar has been set in terms of main, anti-hero type characters. I can only imagine Truman taking on a Hawkeye Pierce kind of role in this genre, and look forward to seeing what the future authors of the series will do with him.

As for Kurtz’s bad guys… let’s just say that I was almost peeing myself when he brought them out in this badass little novella. Not in the “scared as hell” kind of peeing, but the “I’m so stoked that he went there” kind. Well, that’s if you catch my drift… let’s stop talking about pee, shall we?

The baddies are immense in this piece, playing on a level field to Truman’s larger than life persona and holding their ground well. I’m a huge fan of the Satanic Panic era of fiction and film, so the evil-doers in this book sat well with me, indeed. From evil shadows to body jumping demon-things, this book is filled with awesome supernatural oddities and more fun than you can shake a stick at. What I would have like to see more of, however, is Kurtz’s signature over the top style, which he’s toned down for what I can only assume is the limits of the time period. Kurtz more than makes up for this shortcoming with a healthy dose of go-go-go and a smattering of gloriously grotesque gore on the side (albeit as a small side dish). It’s really easy to get sucked into this one and find that your breakfast is forever ruined in the toaster. *sigh*

The Truman Series is a promising offering from Abattoir Press, and something I know will feature prominently in the horror literature landscape for years to come. When people ask what mash ups and cross genre fiction are supposed to read like, you can sure as hell bet that I’m going to be pointing them this way first. Kurtz has really hit his stride, and I can only see things going up from here.

Grab yourself a copy of the first Truman Mystery, Catch My Killer!, at Amazon in Kindle format, and keep an eye out for the second Truman Mystery, The Last Invasion, which drops on May 1st.

C.