Dead Five's Pass represented something of a challenge to me. On paper, the subject matter was completely up my alley. But I'd never heard of author Colin F Barnes before. Over time, I've learned that a reliable author is worth more than a familiar story-line (consider the proliferation of zombie apocalyptic fiction as an example of what I mean), so I was a little hesitant and found this one never quite forced itself through onto the top of my TBR pile.
Then the Kindle Unlimited program came along. And (at least to me), the type of fiction you're willing to take a chance on, is exactly what we KU subscribers live for...
Dead Five's Pass starts strongly as mountain climbers are lured toward a remote pass, only to fall afoul of something living within the network of caves that honeycomb the mountain. Carise and Marcel are ex-partners with a painful history who are called upon to investigate and rescue said climbers. What they find is intriguingly Lovecraftian in nature, and most certainly a threat to more than just those who happen to climb through The Rockies.
Barnes weaves an interesting mystery through the first half of his novella, ramping up the tension as his two protagonists move to confront the evil he sparingly provides information on. The most effective scenes are those that provide a glimpse of what lives beneath the mountain, and the first run in Carise and Marcel have with said creature. After that, things become a bit more bog standard, even if plot threads (such as Marcel's current relationship) are all but abandoned in the rush to wrap up the main narrative. As such, the story never really came together for me in a wholly satisfying way. Barnes also leaves the reader to deal with a very open ended story, with no guarantee that any further word on the world of Dead Five's Pass is forthcoming.
The writing, however, is mostly very strong and at 108 pages, no-one is going to accuse this breezy read of outstaying its welcome. And though I was hoping for more, I definitely saw enough promise in this one to seek out more from Barnes and hope it won't take quite so long for his next work to sit atop my not insubstantial TBR pile.
3 Blood Painted Sigils for Dead Five's Pass.