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The Graveyard Vultures

Novel by Guy N Smith (England) 1982.

First in his Sabat series, to be followed by The Blood Merchants (1982), Cannibal Cult (1982) and The Druid Connection (1983), this was surprisingly banned in South Africa soon after release, along with a number of anti-apartheid pamphlets.

Mark Sabat (ex-priest, ex-SAS trained killer, and exorcist) has one major quest in his life: to rid the world of the great evil that is his elder brother, Quentin. When they finally meet again, Sabat seemingly wins, but he soon realises that Quentin has merely moved his mind into Sabat's own, turning him into a dangerous schizophrenic. With this burden, Sabat uses his talents where he can, here to destroy the satanic cult that has desecrated St. Adrian's churchyard and is becoming dangerously powerful through ritual sacrifice and the bones of a long dead sorcerer.

Guy Smith, not known for writing slowly, must have sped through this one; his enthusiasm is very noticeable. As a result we find his tackiest dialogue since the glory days of The Sucking Pit and The Slime Beast, and a background setting that doesn't even have a name, just 'a remote village in the heart of leafy England'; but the rollercoaster action more than compensates. This is a good pulp novel: with black magic, astral travel, voodoo, exorcism and psychic rape, there's not too much missing here. The 160 pages are as crammed as any Ron Goulart book, but there's more than mere occult devices and formula plots. Mark Sabat (a classic pulp character if ever there was one, and very much a dream alter-ego to the author) has to fight his battles on two fronts not one: external and internal, for Quentin is always there inside his mind to throw a spanner in the works at crucial moments. And this is the only time I've seen or read about someone attempting to exorcise himself. How much of this is gibberish is academic, it's also fun. And with later books in the series it gets even better.

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