Review: Once Dead by Richard Phillips

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Publisher: 47 North
Publishing Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9781477824108
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.6/5

Publisher Description: Gregory, once the CIA’s top assassin, went rogue after a mission gone wrong. When a confrontation leaves him bleeding out on death’s doorstep, he’s faced with an offer from a dark figure ..If Jack is willing to act as its human host, the entity will revive him and give him another shot at life.

Review: Wow, that is one of the worst covers ever as it doesn’t even closely relate to anything in the novel.

So……………..Jack, a CIA operative, is attempting to kill a special forces dude in an alley in Calcutta India, surrounded by 6 or so knife wielding (and I mean knives attached to pike poles) in a fight to the death. As Jack slowly dismantles SF dude (whom killed his brother) the Indian gang starts cutting him. Jack ,Jiu Jitsu fu’s his way past all the bad guys by disarming, disemboweling and just plane dissing all over the sitch. An old leathery nun finds him and Jack is eventually pronounced dead. Later, they find Jack gone, the nun cowering in a corner with a half mumbled phrase on her lips…”JACK THE RIPPER IS BACK!!”. Huh? How the fug would a nun in Calcutta India in the 21 Century know that Jack the Ripper had taken up residence in, well Jack? Besides the lame fight scenes and why a gang in Calcutta would stage a fight to the death between two sworn enemies in a dark alley (which makes even less sense now that I write it down) and a nun’s discernment of all things ethereal and other-worldly, this was a pretty good read.

Jack eventually becomes a kind of hit-man. I say “kind of” because if an assassin works for the side of good, is he really an assassin/hit-man? I guess it is a matter of perspective, as in “One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter”. The torture scenes are pretty graphic. I think this helps the reader to build up a full steam of righteous indignation where we can’t wait to see the bad guy(s) done in by an almost super human assass….er….hit-ma…er…..vigilante. Do vigilante’s get paid? There is super hottie spy chick, Janet, who is the only one to beat Jack’s 1,000 meter sniper record and the only girl to ever pass the dreaded Special Forces Training (only no one can ever know about it, or her) but she moves like a dancer and is built for speed, if you know what I mean….YAWN. Jack can hold his breath for 6 minutes and quickly get his heart rate to 60bpm while killing bad guys…YAAAAAAAWN. In one scene, Jack is in the shower and the bad guys bust in. Jack takes off into the woods and kills everyone. My question is, does the guy shower with his clothes on because all of a sudden Jack has his clothes and his killing knife, but has no shoes. Ah, well artistic license and all that.

I still don’t know how Jack got the “Ripper” nickname. Besides a nun who said it to herself and is now an addled, insane hunchback, there is no one that would ascribe that moniker to Jack. But somehow the legend of the RIPPER is fluent at all levels of spy-dom. I still don’t know how to rate this one. I loved it, but at times it was so fugging stoopid. Jack and Janet are pretty believable at times, then in others its the old suspension of disbelief. I am going to go with pure entertainment value and look past the glaring errors…..mostly.

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