Monday, 10 February 2014



This short novel first appeared in an anthology released by Cemetery Dance publications. Kealan Patrick Burke edited. The main character was to have a brief encounter with a wise old man named Johnny Divine, who lived in a town called "Brimstone Turnpike," the title of the anthology. That character would then to be given one object that would impact the outcome of the story. The writers were free to invent everything else. In award-winning author Harry Shannon's entry, Sam Kenzie is an LAPD cop who can't escape his obsession with a serial killer due to demons of his own. Shannon played by the rules, but his ending is both stunning and disturbing.

"Behold the Child", by Harry Shannon, is the perfect mix of classic Noir and the supernatural. A maverick, burned-out cop haunted by his last city case ignores advice and a "wrong" turn en route to his retirement gig in the isolated desert town of his youth. It's dark, brooding, and reminds us that unfortunately, not everyone takes advantage of divine second chances."
-Shroud Magazine

"Master craftsmanship."
-Cemetery Dance

"Shannon is a writer who is never afraid to walk into the shadows and drag the things living there kicking and screaming into the light."
-Brian Keene

"Harry Shannon takes age-old themes and gives them a new and fearsome bite. Vividly realized, his writing is controlled, assured, and filled with the kind of spooky atmosphere that used to make you hide your head under the bedcovers on wind-wracked nights." 
- Tom Piccirilli

I’m not complaining too loudly but this read may just disprove the oft-quoted adage – that the best things in life are free. Never having read Shannon before my interest was aroused when I saw Bill Pronzini’s praise for his book Memorial Day. Hopping over to Amazon to check it out, I saw Behold the Child was available for free download and cheapskate that I am; I pushed the button on it.

Enjoyable up to a point; I was interested in Shannon’s cop McKenzie and his life as an LAPD officer. He was interesting, if not exactly likeable. Obsessed with pursuing a child-killer, McKenzie goes off-script which leads to his eventual departure from the police force. On his way to his new life, he encounters a shaman-cum-mystic-cum-wise-old-black-dude....... at which point I kind of lost interest.

I was fairly gripped until then but I’m not big on supernatural twists. Had Shannon kept the finale rooted in reality, he may have won himself a new fan. My impending purchase of Memorial Day has been put on hold, until further notice.

88 pages long, so not too much time invested in it.

3 from 5 overall

Picked up from Amazon UK, where it is still currently available for free.



  1. Col - I must admit I'm with you on supernatural twists in novels. I'm not much of a one for them at all. Sorry this one didn't work better for you, but at least my own credit card is safe. ;-)

    1. Margot thanks - a wee bit disappointing in the end but there was quite a lot to like.

  2. No risk, no foul. I'm not big on supernatural twists either.

  3. Ok you have succeeded in putting me off - tho it sounded not my kind of thing from the start...

  4. Col, I've read about Harry Shannon and his work on the internet. I'll read his novels at some point not too distant in the future. Besides, short fiction appeals to me these days.

    1. Shorter fiction is attractive for me - anything over 300 pages and I approach it with a negative mindset. Books around the 200 mark are perfect.........not too long, not too short. I think I consciously avoid going for longer books now, unless the author is a favourite of mine.............and unless I already have it on the pile!

  5. I read this review when you posted it, but must of have gone off looking for info on the author and never come back to comment. Looking now again, I think he is too horrifying (in general) for me... I too had seen the praise for Memorial Day (from Pronzini) when it first came out, but never followed up on it.

    1. I think it was Pronzini's mention that put him on my radar and after trying this, I'm kind of undecided about re-visiting the book that initially interested me. There's plenty others to be getting on with.