The Soul Collectors

The Soul Collectors  by Chris Mooney

This book is one in a series – no.4 I think – and so I must caution readers that, as with most sequential tomes, it is preferable to start at the beginning to better appreciate the story.

I didn’t do that, as I’m new to Chris Mooney and I’m very pig-headed and impatient. Yet The Soul Collectors was highly enjoyable nonetheless. Although not the first in line, this particular episode does centre around a new plot and, so, perhaps it’s not complete sacrilege to receive an introduction to Darby McCormick here.

Darby McCormick, or Dr D McCormick of the Boston Criminal Services Unit – who also has SWAT training and could kick the shit out of any two men – to give her full title, is the central character in this rollicking tale about a nasty and mysterious collective responsible for a multitude of child abductions over decades.

Any guesses as to Darby’s ancestral background? No? Let me give you another clue, to add to her name, place of birth and religion (which is Catholic). She likes to drink either Midleton or Bushmills Irish Whiskey. You got it yet? No? Jaysus but you’re hopeless, I give up!

Why oh why do so many US authors persist in presenting law enforcement officers as Irish American? Yes, I understand that the Irish did represent a sizeable percentage of the cops in certain areas. But for God’s sake, let’s have an Albanian cop, an Afghan FBI officer or a Sudanese member of the Secret Service for a change. Other than Alex Cross or Shaft (private eye), how many black men have been involved in law enforcement in any way? I could also point out the under-representation of women of ethnic minorities, but then you know that already.

That said, Darby is very female and very likeable. She is beautiful, of course, (no red whiskey nose on this girl) dangerous, and in love with her best friend, Coop, but can’t seem to get her romantic shit together. Oh, the drama of it all!

I must confess, I don’t always want to read some emotionally complex nominee for the Booker. Often I enjoy a bit of standard fare that can be described as predictable. If the plot-line is strong, and characters consistent, then ok, what harm?

The Soul Collectors is that sort of book. It does have its flaws, commonplace to a lot of ‘mainstream’ thrillers these days. For example, have you ever noticed just how many IT whizz-kids there are in the US? Every cop appears to know someone who can hack into anything. It’s no wonder that Wikileaks is churning out millions of secretive documents. I’m surprized that the quantity isn’t much greater, given how easy it appears to be to get into the Pentagon’s computer system, and so many roguish nerds floating around poking into it all, just for the craic.

In The Soul Collectors, we have weapons and tactical equipment everywhere. The action is relentless, and great for it, but much of the plot-line is stretched thinner than a Trump smile at a feminist convention.

Snipers keep popping up and shooting people with gay abandon, as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. People are being gassed with hard-to-get- toxins, all over the place, and there are rare spiders and instruments of torture that would not be out of place in the rec. rooms of any Shin Bet HQ. The credibility of the story is drawn extremely thin at times.

The main element that manages to hold this tale together, is the writing of Chris Mooney, which is spot on. There is little depth, but that’s ok, unless you want entire chapters dedicated to dreams of blue horses grazing in red pastures of green umbrellas, as humming teddy bears look on with ghastly smiles and sharpen their wicked striped spoons.

Darby kicks ass, gets her ass kicked, her heart bruised, and then kicks some more ass, including the asses of some of those who kicked her ass back at the beginning of all the ass-kicking.

It’s set in New England. It’s entirely possible that in the future Darby McCormick could end up shagging Charlie Parker from John Connolly’s series set in the same area. But fucking hell, I would not want to live in New England for all the tea in Ireland. There are cults all over the place, and serials killers in every supermarket queue, and supernatural entities coming out the wazoo. Imagine if life really did start to imitate art. And I haven’t even started on Stephen King and his take on the region. Really! What the hell is going on in Maine?

The Soul Collectors is a decent enough read, if basic. It won’t blow your mind – just like Darby is having problems blowing Coop – but it might excite some interest. I can do Chris Mooney and his book no greater compliment than to say that I would like to read the series from the start, and will be on the lookout for any new releases.

Sult scale rating: 6.5 out of 10. Recommended, if you like that sort of thing.