Book Review: Occult Assassin #3: Spirit Breaker by William Massa

Spirit BreakerEach new title in William Massa’s Occult Assassin series expands its supernatural universe in new and exciting ways, without compromising the thrilling action sequences. Former Special Ops soldier Mark Talon uses his “particular set of skills” to terminate those who seek to bring Darkness into the world through occult means.

More and more, though, Talon is forced to take on supernatural menaces head on. When a 9mm round won’t stop the baddie, a demon-slayer blade, blessed Crucifix or even an electro-magnetic ghost-scrambling pulse rifle becomes the weapon of choice.

Damnation Code had a strange, malicious entity that used a cult and computer code to create a monstrous techno-human hybrid. In Apocalypse Soldier it was maniac bikers and demon possession. With Spirit Breaker, Talon goes high-tech ghost hunting to stop a bunch of crazed, skateboarding “Occupy” fanatics, their psychic “ectoplasm battery charging” leader, and a malevolent ghost that refuses to be evicted from an abandoned shopping mall.

The body count of anonymous evil-doers is high, as it should be in this genre, but like zombies, ghosts have a tendency to get back up and keep coming. At roughly 180 pages, Spirit Breaker is a very quick read, and priced accordingly.

When we last saw Talon in Apocalypse Soldier, he was precariously close to burnout. The brutal murder of his fiancee, his abrupt initiation to the war against other-worldly enemies, injuries and exhaustion have taken their toll. Massa gives him barely a chapter to recuperate after taking out a human sacrificing, Santa Muerte worshiping drug dealer, but it does the trick.

In no time at all Talon’s investigation of copycat murders of wealthy people brings him to the eerie condemned mall where the original killer met an untimely death. But sometimes dead things don’t want to stay dead, and the killer ghost is rebuilding an army of cast-offs and misfits who murder others to feed his energy field.

In each book, Talon gains an ally with a specialty. Most of them could return in future adventures, and it would be awesome to see a team-based effort at some point. This time around Talon works with a well-funded psychic investigator who has developed the Spirit Breaker, a combination of body armor, display helmet and the previously mentioned ghost-scrambling rifle. If an earthbound spirit is stuck and wants to move on, she’s ready to help. But if they are malingering spirits, well, let’s just say they’re given a little push into the light.

There’s actually some character development worked in and around the nearly non-stop action. Talon develops a sense of humor. More significantly, Casca, the brains and bankroll behind the Occult Assassin operation, insists on taking part in a mission and immediately falls for the temptation to use blood magic when the chips are down. Talon realizes that his friend, mentor and sponsor might someday cross the line to the dark side and become a target.

I can’t get enough of the Occult Assassin series. Fortunately, William Massa is cranking them out. There are two short story adventures available, and another novella in the works.

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