Harry Shannon
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Buy *Daemon* by Harry Shannon

Harry Shannon
Delirium Books
295 pages
April 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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During his tour in Iraq, Black Ops specialist Jeff Lehane fought against more than just Saddam Hussein’s forces. The infamous Ali Basra, who took part in torturing prisoners in cruel ways even Saddam’s sadistic sons Uday and Qusay wouldn’t, was also involved in the occult. Lehane thought he left the horrors he witnessed in Iraq behind him, but they’ve pursued him back to America in Harry Shannon’s novel of unrelenting horror, Daemon. Before the end of Lehane’s adventures, will the zombie-like Bhuta, or daemon, possess his body, as it’s done to so many before him? Shannon’s latest novel will keep you reading late into the night, wondering to yourself what was it that just moved in the shadows of your bedroom - was it the cat, or something much more dangerous?

Jeff Lehane worked for Spinks Security after coming back from Iraq but decided to retire at a relatively young age. His ex-wife, Heather, still works for Charlie Spinks, though. When Charlie chooses her to be the leader of a team to guard Enrique Diaz, a Latino rap star, political activist and environmentalist, Lehane reluctantly agrees to assist. He’s offered ten thousand dollars for his time, but he doesn’t agree to help because of the money. Lehane worries that Charlie and Enrique are using Heather to get him to join in guarding Enrique, but the tactics work. He fears that the job isn’t going to be an easy one.

Enrique has received death threats by a professional who hasn’t left any clues, not even DNA on an envelope flap. Lehane assembles his former team and takes over as the boss with Heather as second-in-command. When Enrique performs in town, Jeff wants to be sure that no one can carry out the threats on his life. All of his planning can’t stop an attempt on Enrique’s life from occurring, though, and Heather is the one who pays the ultimate price when the killer fatally shoots her in the forehead. When the killer, an ex-con named Roger Gordon who’d flown in a plane from Texas to Nevada, mentions Heather’s name, Jeff starts thinking that the real target wasn’t Enrique at all, but himself. As he tells his team:

“He knew me. In fact, he probably didn’t come for Enrique at all, he came for me.” Lehane looked down. “So whether I knew ahead of time or not, I had something to do with getting Heather killed.”
Worse than Heather’s death is what happens to her body afterwards. Someone breaks into the morgue and chews up part of her corpse. What should have been a simple job as a bodyguard turns into a nightmare for Jeff and his team. He vows to discover who was behind Heather’s death and is still trying to kill Enrique and himself. Even after Roger’s death, someone has been killing and chewing on bodies, and whatever or whoever it is seems to be able to pass on a zombie-like sickness like a virus through its saliva. Gordon tried to spit at Lehane before he died but missed him, and his enigmatic dying word was “Boot.”

Eventually Lehane learns that Enrique plans to make a movie based on a legendary monster from the Middle East also is mentioned in tales from India, a type of daemon known as the Bhuta. The deaths and the partial eating of corpses have all the hallmarks of an attack by one or more Bhutas. Professor Kilani, an expert in Middle Eastern beliefs hired by Enrique as a consultant, describes the bhuta as being similar to a Gul, or Ghoul, as they came to be known:

“Well, you see, the daemon Bhuta is certainly a ghoul first and foremost. How- ever, Bhuta is also a term that applies to all of the demigods, daemons, and undead in the Hindu pantheon. It has many, many manifestations. The Bhuta is the ghost of a man who was tortured and killed, generally a man of high status, who was executed as a common criminal.”
Whoever has been murdering people shows a partiality for eating the intestines and stomachs of its victims. This goes along with Kilani’s statement to Enrique, Lehane, and his team, that “The Bhuta doesn’t only eat the flesh of dead creatures it also often dines on human intestines...and their contents. In other words, excrement.”

Daemon is a spine-tingling, action-packed novel that will chill you to the bone. The grotesqueness might put some readers off, but zombies and Bhutas aren’t the pickiest of eaters. I liked the realistic details of the many and various types of firearms that Lehane and his team members stock up for their final showdown against a multitude of corpses taken over by the Bhuta (fittingly, the climatic battle takes place in a morgue that’s also used as a crematorium). Formerly called Night of the Daemon, to go along with a series of other horror novels Shannon has written like Night of the Beast and Night of the Werewolf, Daemon is a novel that horror fans will love sinking their teeth into.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Douglas R. Cobb, 2009

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