Edgar Switchblade is back with his third storied adventure and his second in book form. With his ever-faithful equine companion, Old Red, by his side, it would seem Edgar has been tasked with taking on and eradicating a zombie threat in the town of Cathedral Hill. The bounty seems easily satisfied, and what's left of the obliterated zombie remains are eaten entirely by the ravenous Red, but as usual in the life of Edgar Switchblade, things have only really just begun.
By now, the character of Edgar Switchblade has been duly established. He is a mankind-hating vegetarian cannibal (figure that one out) blessed by God (or he just thinks he is) who travels the land smiting any number of supernatural threats. He is a mostly irredeemable character that no one in their right mind should root for, but yet, author L. Wyatt knows his audience well enough at this point to be confident that, yeah, of course we're going to root for him. Though Edgar stabs and decapitates innocent people simply for getting in his way, oddly it's exactly this kind of anti-heroically behavior, as well as his undying loyalty for Old Red, that has us rooting for him anyway. In a way, Edgar represents the readers' desires to break free of the everyday and act out the most animalistic and vile things that simmer beneath our brain. The part of us that's "human" should be repulsed by Edgar's wanton disregard for anything the least bit civilized, but yet we find ourselves living vicariously through this rather rogue and rootless life that sees him and Old Red traveling the countryside, drinking to excess some Old Crow, whoring when the desire should so arise, and having the occasional bout with the supernatural. Compare all that to quality control procedures and itemized billing and TPS reports, and yeah, suddenly Edgar Switchblade's unscrupulous and murderous life suddenly seems all the more alluring.
The Dreadful Death of Edgar Switchblade is an improvement over the previous and introductory book of the Edgar Switchblade series, which didn't need all that much improving. While The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switchblade was tasked with telling a cohesive and current story while also dipping back in time to provide some necessary back-story on our titular character, with Book # 2, all that's gone to crow. What we have now is a rather straightforward adventure (or as close as we can get in the world of Edgar Switchblade) that sees Edgar teaming up with Old Red and Reverend Jebediah Hitchcock to take on the demon wizard Solomon Gorath. Along the way our trio meets Mary, who are comprised of both a shapely, fire-headed woman as well as her Persian cat, and together they become perhaps the most randomly compiled group of avengers ever seen.
By now the tone of the series has been handily established and relishes in unrelenting violence, vile disgust, and morbid humor. But really, even though there are moments of obvious humor, if you're not laughing along with the violent and absolutely disgusting acts that pepper this story, you're not doing it right. (For example, a rather sharp object ends up inside an unfortunate person's "anus" more than once - take that, James Patterson - and it's done to make you squirm in your seat and laugh out of sheer disbelief and discomfort.)
The painstaking detail to the physical design of the book - the undersized dime-store pulp novel with pink-stained edges that could be found on the lowest shelf of every drug-store book display in the 1940s/50s - is so-far consistent with the Edgar Switchblade series. It's such a fucking wonderful design that you wonder why more authors aren't doing it.
As I'm sure I mentioned before in other Switchblade-related reviews, but which bears repeating here, the Edgar Switchblade series is an acquired taste. Very acquired. You have to be a little sick and deranged to enjoy it. Its mere presence on your bookshelf would horrify your mother and have the nearest insane asylum reserving a room for you in the cellar.
You can buy it here, by the way.