Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by John Skipp & Cody Goodfelllow
Published by Leisure Books
When I first heard that John Skipp was returning to his days of teaming up for a new book, my initial reaction was “who the hell is Cody Goodfellow”? Now I know that who Cody Goodfellow is doesn’t matter too much, because the two make a great team and his collaboration with splatterpunk God John Skipp is a helluva good time and well worth lending your eyeballs to.
Pastor Jake Connaway has everything self-serving bastard could want; women, drugs, and a country full of idiots in the palm of his hand. Formerly a scammer of an entirely different nature, as soon as Jake got a taste for the gullibility of those who devote their life to Jesus and his works, his calling was heard. That is, until an insanely jealous boyfriend caught him rutting with his lady in their basement and snuffed out Jake’s shallow, empty existence via the business end of a hunting knife.
So now Jake is dead, and not a moment too soon. His long-suffering wife has to deal with all the people in Jake’s life who believe he owed them something, from one (of many) of his former mistresses to a young, naïve girl who worked for Jake’s company and believed him to be the be-all end-all of human existence, a true servant of Jesus. Unfortunately for all of them, though, someone is on their way to the ranch house to throw a large, violent monkey wrench in the proceedings; Jake himself, back from the dead and more evil than ever before.
When Jake was alive he was a cocky and mean sonofabitch, but he was still mortal. Now that he’s been resurrected he feels even more justified in doling out the punishments on everyone who’s shown up take a piece of his proverbial pie. Add to that the fact the he’s now unkillable, and you’ve got a pretty nasty situation for this group who had hoped their dealings with Jake were at an end.
One of the little things Skipp & Goodfellow get right that mad me smile is addressing the fact that Jake’s body is now full of embalming fluid and empty of organs, something that’s almost never thought about when one is dealing with “zombie” stories. Another thing they get right is keeping the action moving along at a good clip for the entire book, though I do have to admit that there were some moments where it seemed like not enough time was being spent with Jake and his evil ways, and too much with those affected by his actions in life.
Which leads to me a revelation about Jake’s Wake; it’s actually a lot deeper than I expected. Jake was truly a despicable person during his time among the living and those who were hurt by him continue to suffer. In some cases their lives are ruined, and those are the most heartbreaking to spend time with, especially his wife. While sure, you can place a good portion of the blame on her shoulders for ignoring all the evidence in front of her and not getting out early, Jake’s cruelty to those close to him really knew no bounds and she got the worst of it.
But what I loved most about Jake’s Wake was the end. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean that Skipp & Goodfellow ended the book the only way it could be ended and while I wish I could go more into the reasons why it worked so perfectly, to say much more would spoiling the fun. Suffice it to say; those readers who appreciate irony will get a kick out of it.
For a first time team-up, Jake’s Wake is hopefully a good sign of things to come from the Skipp & Goodfellow duo. A film adaptation is planned for the book at some point, though we’ve not heard an update on it for a while now so it’s hard to tell what the status is. For now just get out there and find Jake’s Wake for a fun, thoughtful & gory good time!
4 out of 5
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