Book review: Immortal

By Gene Doucette
Published by Hamel Integrity Publishing, 2010
ISBN: 0984568514
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This has got to be the most whimsical fantasy/horror novel I’ve read since I discovered Murphy’s Lore. The protagonist claims to be the oldest man in the world and calls himself Adam; he may or may not be “the” Adam, the father of us all, but he’s certainly quite a character. According to him, “My earliest memory is something along the lines of fire good, ice bad, so I think I predate written history. . .I like to brag that I’ve been there from the beginning, and while this may very well be true, I generally say it just to pick up girls.”

There’s no doubt that Gene Doucette has come up with a modern version of Mel Brooks’ 2,000 Year Old Man, but with a more laidback attitude, as well as a strong sense of survival. First of all, he has a Swiss bank account and seven passports, so he can pull up stakes and move on whenever he gets tired of staying someplace, or if he’s already stayed there long for people to notice that he’s not aging. Secondly, he’s a party dude who loves to drink, talk and screw, usually with young people of collage age. He looks barely thirty himself, so he usually fits right in. (And he always pays for the drinks, which makes him very popular.) Thirdly, he has the ability to change his skin and hair color so he can look like the predominant racial group of whatever region he’s in. He’s also multilingual and can speak all the major languages of Europe as well as North and South America.

He’s very chummy with vampires, as they’re the only other immortals he knows (with one exception) who never age. He’s also familiar with cute magical beings like pixies, as well as not-so-cute ones like demons. But to Adam, the most unforgettable immortal being, as well as the most elusive, is the beautiful red-haired woman he keeps getting glimpses of throughout his long life. She never says anything, just looks at him with her haunting blue eyes. But the moment he takes his eyes off of her, she disappears. She’s been doing this for ten thousand years now and he’s become obsessed with her, but he can never get close enough to her to start a conversation.

But everything changes for Adam the morning he wakes up in Boston after crashing a college kegger party. While recovering from his hangover, he gets to know his hosts, two college boys named Gary and Nate. He crashes with them long enough to become friends with them (as long as he’s paying for the booze), then one evening he goes out for a walk, meets a vampire hooker named Brenda and spends the night with her. While he’s out, Gary and Nate are murdered by a demon that’s been sent to find Adam and bring him back alive. But who hired the demon and why does he want to find Adam so badly? And why are all these human bounty hunters suddenly turning up wherever he goes, all trying to capture “the immortal man” and bring him in alive for a generous reward?

Even Adam’s little Ifrit friend Jerry, who also turns up at Gary and Nate’s apartment to tell him about the latest sighting of the mysterious red-haired woman, eventually turns on him and helps a bounty hunter trap him. Of course Adam doesn’t stay caught for very long, but it’s still very annoying having to elude or escape from all these jerks while trying to discover who had his young friends killed and why do they want him so badly. With the help of a young lady named Clara, who’s a member of an underground fan club that follows “the immortal” from city to city, he eventually tracks down the fellow who so desperate to get his hands on him.

Turns out it’s an amoral millionaire who’s desperate to be immortal too, and thinks his pet scientists will find a way to synthesize Adam’s immortality for him, as well as for whoever else is willing to pay the price. Adam has no desire to become somebody’s science project, but since the millionaire bad guy in question has the mysterious red-haired woman Adam loves as his prisoner, as well as his new friend Clara, Adam has no choice but to cooperate. But only until he comes up with a plan to free himself and the ladies, which involves another new friend of his, a pixie named Iza, as well as an old friend that the bad guy is also holding prisoner. He doesn’t know about Adam’s connection to this person, but when he does, he’s going to regret the day he ever laid eyes on them both. Regret it in a very big way.

If you like modern fantasy with a touch of realism, similar to my home boy Patrick Thomas and his “Murphy’s Law” series, I definitely recommend “Immortal” by Gene Doucette, a native of Cambridge, MA who, from his description of NYC, sounds as if he’s spent a lot of time here. He may also be familiar with Mel Brooks and his 2,000 Year Old Man, as well as with the aforementioned Patrick Thomas. But whoever he gets his inspiration from, the result is one seriously funny book.