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Book Review: The Graveyard Vultures by Guy N. Smith


The Graveyard Vultures by Guy N. Smith (Book Review)

Sabat (Book 1) 

The Graveyard Vultures

By Guy N. Smith

During the early 1980s Guy N. Smith wrote a series of four books about an ex-priest and exorcist who was also an SAS-trained killer. He named this rather versatile, if unorthodox, individual Mark Sabat and the first book in the series is called The Graveyard Vultures.
The prologue to The Graveyard Vultures finds Sabat hot on the trail of '
the most evil man creation had ever known'—his own brother, Quentin. Sabat has been chasing Quentin for many years and when their long-awaited reunion takes place he plans to kill his brother.
Killing Quentin is no easy matter and when Mark does eventually put an end to him he finds that there was a hidden sting in his brother's tail. Quentin, unable to survive in his own mutilated body, finds a way of entering Mark's. He is unable to possess Mark entirely though, so remains just a voice in his head.
This state of possession stays with Sabat throughout the book. It is a constant problem for him. Although Quentin has never been able to take complete control of Mark he remains ever ready to do so, if Mark should ever become weakened or tired enough to let this happen. Even as a voice in Mark's head, Quentin is a nuisance because whenever Sabat is fighting the good fight against the forces of evil, Quentin is always there to goad him and put him down and generally try to weaken his resolve, making each battle a lot harder than it already is.
The main story involves a coven of witches who have been committing unspeakable acts in a small village graveyard. Remembering Sabat's powers of exorcism (which are none too shabby) the Archbishop has insisted that Sabat be called in to investigate the problem. Sabat agrees to look into the matter—for his usual fee, of course.
Sabat proves himself to be a courageous and versatile character and these are admirable qualities, but Sabat has many other qualities that are a lot less acceptable and so, for me, he was never really the kind of hero that I could identify with. Sabat has, for instance, a very mercenary attitude and he is not afraid to take what he wants—including women. 

At just 160 pages, The Graveyard Vultures is not a long book and by the time I had read the final page Sabat had brutally raped a woman twice. Even once would have been too much for my taste and the acts of rape have nothing to do with his brother Quentin; it is Sabat himself who decides on this course of behaviour. In most of the books I read it is the bad guys who do the raping and pillaging and the hero is the one who delivers a much deserved ass-kicking to them. In a book like The Graveyard Vultures, where the hero is a rapist, it presents a situation that I am not entirely comfortable with. I prefer a hero that I can respect and in no respect could I ever feel like that about a man like Sabat. There are, however, other characters in the book that are likeable, the only problem is that they all end up dying horrible deaths.
Sabat might be an unconventional hero, but that is not the only thing that annoyed me about the book. At first the Coven seem to be devil worshipers, but then, later on, it appears that their allegiance is diluted with Voodoo. I found it hard to accept this because I doubt very much that the Devil would look favourably on his followers pursuing relations with voodoo deities. I've read plenty of books that have Satanists in them, and a few that boast practitioners of the Voodoo arts; but this is the first time that I have ever encountered an amalgamation of this sort and it makes the story a little too unbelievable. The ex-priest Sabat also seems to have no

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qualms about deserting the Christian God for Voodoo ones when it suits his purpose. This made it hard for me to believe in him as a character and I felt that perhaps the character of Sabat was being bent around the needs of the story rather than participating in it.
The Graveyard Vultures is not a book that I would want to read again, but I will probably read the rest of the Sabat series because I usually like Guy N. Smith's work and I am curious to see whether the character of Sabat develops into a more likable and traditional hero.


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