Friday, August 27, 2010

Super-Powered Pulp Prose: Resurrecting Midnight by Eric Jerome Dickey

This is the fourth in a series of novels by Dickey featuring his character Gideon, an international assassin whose mind has been utterly messed up by years of killing, sex, and living on the wrong side of the law. I have long considered reviewing the previous books in this series as I read the, but never did. I think its time to remedy that.

Eric Jerome Dickey has been writing fiction for fifteen years now, but perhaps more people in superhero circles would know him as the writer of the 2006 retcon miniseries Storm that established a larger back story between Storm and Black Panther leading up to their soon to be totally perfect marriage. I was by no means a fan of that storyline, though I am unsure how much of the mess that was the Black Panther plot can really be put on Dickey. He did what he could with the project he was given, and did an all right job with it.

I bring up Storm simply as a way of pointing out the clear comic book inspiration that Gideon clearly originates from. Though still human, Gideon has become almost a superman over the four books he has appeared. Though beaten, he always perseveres, does what it takes to survive and win the day. Dickey actually acknowledges his comic book influences in the bakc of Resurrecting Midnight, mention crime and superhero writers like Ed Brubaker, Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller, and Garth Ennis. He also shows it in the casual mentions of characters and locations from many of his other novels. The Gideon novels actually extends out of a previous set of character’s from his novel Thieves Paradise so I guess you can say this brings it altogether.

I could also argue Resurrecting Midnight’s pulp influences. Gideon is clearly a descendant of morally ambiguous characters from Arsene Lupin to The Avenger. He seems to want to do the right thing, even when his profession constantly forces him in to a path of murder and destruction. There essentially lies the conflict deep in Gideon’s soul that Dickey has played out over four novels.

This novel takes the character and his extended supporting cast farther down the path tread by the previous three books, even as Gideon is drawn by his old friend and lover Arizona in to a bloodbath in Argentina. In the process, he meets Medianoche, the resurrected Midnight of the title, and learns that the enemy assassin has far closer ties to him than Gideon could ever believe. Gideon ends up once again embroiled in a world of sex and violence, two things Dickey can write better than many other authors.

My praise heaped on already, I will get at the flaws of the novel. I have to limit the plot synopsis to one paragraph for a very important reason: without reading Sleeping With Strangers, Waking With Enemies, and Dying For Revenge any reader would be utterly lost by Resurrecting Midnight. Any details of the plot are just building on previous established character interactions but for the added new enemies in Medianoche and the Four Horsemen. While Dickey created a great character with Gideon, his continuing adventures are anything but new reader friendly. Much like Sleeping With Strangers (a novel designed as a beginning of a duology), Resurrecting Midnight also ends on a far two open ended note, especially when its been a year without a sequel (and his newest book Tempted By Trouble a new standalone). It would be one thing if we were left with a solid place to stop, but instead the reader is pretty much hanging along with all of Gideon’s life.

Still none of that takes away from how good Eric Jerome Dickey is at what he brings to the page here. Very few modern authors can combine sex, violence, action, and dialogue as beautifully as Dickey puts it on the page. Much like Stephen King, I find a lot to study in just the formation of the words he puts on the page.

In case you don’t know it yet, Resurrecting Midnight (and the three novels that come before it) comes Highly Recommended,. Whether a fan of the pulps or the supers, you will find something to love in these pages.

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