Mudman by James A. Hunter
Publisher’s Description: Levi Adams is a soft-spoken, middle-aged Mennonite man—at least he tries to be when he’s not murdering people.
Levi’s a golem, a Mudman, crafted from the muck, mire, and corpses of a World War II concentration camp—killing is just a part of his DNA. He doesn’t like it, but unfortunately, he’s been saddled with a divine commission to dole out judgment on those who shed innocent blood. After seventy years as a cold-blooded murder machine, however, Levi’s trying to change his grisly nature. And the AA meetings and church services are helping. A little. But when he runs across a wounded girl, Sally Ryder, during one of his “hunting expeditions,” he realizes self-help may have to go on the back burner.
Someone is attempting to revive a pre-Babylonian murder god, and the road to rebirth is paved with dead bodies. Lots and lots of them.
Now, Levi must protect Ryder—the key to an unspeakable resurrection—and defeat a Nazi mage from Levi’s murky past. But the shadowy mage holds a terrible secret about the Mudman’s unorthodox birth, one offering insight into Levi’s morbid compulsion for bloodshed. It’s a secret Levi would pay anything to uncover: maybe even Ryder’s life. If Levi isn’t careful, he may end up turning into the monster he always imagined himself to be.
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Nervous Nellie says…
“Holy shit,” Chuck said, standing in slack-jawed wonderment at the building scarring the horizon with its presence. “Don’t tell me we goin’ in there, ’cause I ain’t fixin’ to do it. That place is a straight-up horror movie set, and everyone knows the black dude gets it first in a horror flick.”
First of all, this is an urban fantasy adventure. No sex and no cliffhanger. The bad guys are vanquished…for now. There is lots of death and dismemberment, but when in Levi’s world, it takes a lot to survive.
The cover says it all. The MudMan is a new kind of hero. From his beginnings, Levi was made for revenge. Somewhere along the way, he developed a sentience. He doesn’t want to kill, so he tries to make himself abandon instinct and move toward a cleaner way of living. That takes strength and a lot of determination.
Levi has an enormous amount of humility. He doesn’t present himself as a savior, he’s just doing the right thing. He’s uncovering a nasty plot of a recurring enemy in the Yancy Lazarus world, Hogg. Levi is very serious but the author threw Chuck in the mix to add levity. Chuck MacLeti, the leprechaun, quickly attracted my attention from the first fist bump (don’t worry Yancy, my heart still belongs to you..) The situation is dire and something has to be done. Levi could leave the problem for someone else, but he teams up to take down the bad guys. He saves who he can from the horrible experimentation that is reminiscent of the people that were used together to create him. It’s not a funny story. It’s not a fluffy story, but it’s a darn good action adventure story with an unsuspecting superhero. Levi is a great character with plodding intensity and fierce reputation. I would like to see more from his world, his exploits and his fight to maintain his focus.
Invested Ivana says…
Being a fan of Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series, I was both sad and excited to see a new book from Hunter with a different protagonist. Lucky for me, Mudman is set in the same world as Yancy Lazarus, and even includes some familiar names and places. Though it doesn’t have the same snark as I’m used to from Hunter, Mudman is a fantastic book. Levi is more the quiet straight man while Yancy is the wise-cracking smart-ass, but that doesn’t mean Mudman is devoid of humor; it just comes from the other characters.
Levi’s origins are so interesting — he’s a vengeance golem made out of the agony and fury of WWII Jews slaughtered in concentration camps. He’s built to see the evil in men’s souls and meet out justice and vengeance upon them. After many, many years of this, Levi reaches a higher level of self-awareness, realizing that he doesn’t want to be just a killer. To help control his compulsion to kill, he turns to traditional addiction therapies and to the Mennonite church. He acknowledges that he can’t totally control his urge to kill, and so aims himself at otherworld creatures instead of humans. Levi’s current adventure makes him a more than a killer; it makes him a protector. And that’s something he sees as worthwhile.
Though the author wrote Mudman as a standalone, he has said that if the response is good enough, he might turn it into a series. I can easily see Levi and Yancy working a case together–Levi playing the straight man to Yancy’s smartassery. That would be a hoot to read.
If you’re a fan of Yancy, be sure to give Levi a try. He’s different, but the story is so good, you won’t want to miss it. If you are new to James A. Hunter’s world, Mudman is a great introduction. In either case, be sure to pick up this book. Did I mention YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS IT? Though the badge says 4, I’m giving this book a 4.5.
Mudman publishes today, so watch Amazon, Goodreads, and your favorite sources for more reviews.
If you like this book…
…you should definitely try James Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series if you haven’t already. Thomas Sneigoski and Christopher Golden’s Menagerie series has a golem character. Here’s a list from Goodreads of other books featuring golems.