Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Book Review: Baltimore
This is not my first foray into Mr. Golden's non-Buffy work. I've also read one of the Body of Evidence series titled Skin Deep. That was a young adult novel. Despite Mike Mignola's illustrations, which may make the title seem like it's intended for a younger audience, the first chapter lets the reader know clearly it is not. The scene opens on the battlefield, with the titular character, Henry Baltimore, leading his troops on a sneak attack against Hessian soldiers. The war itself is never really mentioned. It is only implied that this is all taking in the early 1900's. The first chapter does not go well for Baltimore, climaxing when he encounters something he initially thinks is a 'kite' (and referenced as such several times throughout the book, which I was into). After that, we don't see him really until the end of the story.
The true story really follows three friends of Baltimore; a doctor (who removed Baltimore's leg after the first chapter... yeah, I told you it wasn't good for him), a sailor he hung out with after parting ways with the doctor, and his childhood friend, who is presummably the last person Baltimore saw before disappearing. He has them all meet in a hotel bar to await his arrival. Each share stories of the last time they saw Baltimore, followed by their own personal experiences with the supernatural. Each of these stories (with the exception of one) was fascinating. The sailor speaks of his experience with some killer Marrionettes in what is revealed to be a ghost town. Maybe I'm just not scared of puppets, but the sailor's story didn't do it for me. I would have put a good succubus, or some sort of story of sexual woe... something the story lacks with a bunch of dudes. Plus, the sailor at 19 is decribed as kind of hot. You know some demon chippy would have wanted a piece of that.
The childhood friend (who is myteriously absent in decription for the early part of the book; I really thought he was going to be revealed as evil. He wasn't, and I was slightly disappointed) tells a tale of entering a city, seeing a plague-ridden ship, then noticing one of the 'kites' scurrying away. The novel slightly drags here, but this is the only other part that I wasn't truly entertained. Not only is Baltimore a good read; it's a book that has made me want to start reading true books again. Golden is a master and delving into horror and madness, and it's a thrilling ride to follow each of his characters every step of the way.