Pressure’ is a book that gets mentioned a great deal when discussing a fan’s favorite Jeff Strand book. For me, it is second only to ‘Dweller’ in my own personal rankings, and that is saying a great deal about an author with over fifty books published to date. Fifteen years later, we get an unexpected but undeniably welcome sequel to one of Strand’s most memorable and disturbing works in the form of ‘Deathless’.

Picking up years after the events of ‘Pressure’, Darren Rust is serving a life sentence and Alex is still trying to piece together what is left of his life, a task made all the more difficult by the media furor that still remains around Darren’s infamous exploits, culminating in an upcoming documentary about the case.

Deathless by Jeff Strand book cover

Alex just wants to forget and move on. When he meets Luna unexpectedly at a bar, things finally seem to be taking a turn for the better and he begins to believe that he is finally back on the road to genuine happiness. When the relationship begins to sour and Luna’s behaviour begins to grow increasingly concerning, Alex begins to suspect that there may be a dark secret that she is keeping from him; one that is linked to his tragic past and will make his greatest fears a horrifying reality.

I confess to being a little torn on my reading experience with ‘Deathless’, largely due to how different it is from its predecessor.

Where ‘Pressure’ was a taut, well-paced and largely grounded masterwork of tension building, ‘Deathless’ is far broader and more action-packed, bordering on the outlandish. It contains a lot more of the author’s trademark dark humor and witty character dialogue than ‘Pressure’, which was a dark and serious affair. Where ‘Pressure’ kept things low-key, slowly building up the (pardon the phrasing) pressure to unbearable levels, relying on strong character work to create the stakes, ‘Deathless’ is more notable for its big set pieces and over the top characters. 

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Fans of Strands ‘Andrew Mayhem’ series will get a big kick out of ‘Deathless’, as it reads very much like a spiritual successor to that character and his unique mix of high stakes horror antics with an undercurrent of pitch-black comedy, and although this is a sequel to a different book, it does largely work as a stand-alone piece, as readers are brought up to date on the events of ‘Pressure’ throughout the story without any awkward data dumps or unwieldy exposition. If you are a fan of Strands more comedic work and haven’t read ‘Pressure’, then I can safely recommend giving this one a try regardless. 

‘Deathless’ goes in some genuinely unexpected directions when compared to what went before it and your enjoyment of it will largely depend on your expectations. Its tone is markedly different to ‘Pressure’, which was almost unrelentingly grim and went to some very dark places. While ‘Deathless is far from tame, its bleaker moments are tempered somewhat by a more fun and adventurous feel to proceedings and while it may not be quite the sequel I wanted, that takes nothing away from the fact that it is an immensely entertaining and unpredictable story in its own right.

Richard Martin

Richard Martin

Reviewer

Richard Martin started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatized himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner and an inappropriate amount of books. 

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