First published back in September of 2019, prolific pulp horror master Guy N Smith’s novel ‘Sabat 6: The Return’ formed the sixth and final installation in the author’s Sabat series.

DLS Synopsis:
Mark Sabat, ex-priest, SAS-trained killer and exorcist had finally defeated his evil brother. Following their ferocious battle to the death, Sabat had been carried away by the Dart river. But he was alive and had survived the terrifying ordeal at Wistman’s Wood. Unlike his brother, whose body was smashed to hell on a pile of rocks.

After climbing to shore, Sabat made his way back on foot, to his beloved Toni Anderson and update the police. But Mark Sabat’s survival was celebrated for a short time before his services were once again in demand.

In spite of a massive nationwide manhunt, a deadly criminal known as the Reaper had escaped from Britain and was now believed to be in Paris. Furthermore, he was thought to have joined forces with the biggest criminal cartel in Europe, known as the Pink Panther.

The Reaper was a master criminal, rumoured to have occult connections. During his trial at the Old Bailey, the Reaper swore revenge on the retired private detective, George Norman Strong, who was known simply as G.N. amongst his associates. Not only had the Reaper vowed revenge on G.N., but it was understood he was also seeking to obtain the lost Hattan Hall treasure.

Both ventures would lead the criminal to one place – the Bishop’s Castle area of South Shropshire where G.N. now resided with his partner. However, despite the threats made upon G.N., there was not enough evidence to support the need for an armed guard. Therefore because there was also an occult connection, the police requested Mark Sabat to stay at Chestnut Farm with G.N. for a few days, to provide protection whilst the authorities continued with their hunt for the Reaper.

Protecting an old friend from a deadly foe connected to the dark forces – it was a role Mark Sabat could not refuse. However, it was one that would be fraught with danger.

The Reaper is at large once again, and he will stop at nothing to see those who had opposed him, die in horrific agony…

DLS Review:
Here we have the sixth and final instalment within Smith’s much-loved Sabat series. Furthermore, not only does the novel follow directly on from where ‘Sabat 5: Wistman’s Wood’ (2018) left off, but it also follows on from the events that occurred in Smith’s (non-Sabat related) story ‘The Reaper’ (2019). In fact, if you’ve not read the latter novel in particular, then it should be noted that this final Sabat offering includes a huge number of spoilers for that book. So, basically, make sure you read ‘The Reaper’ (2019) first!

Anyway, what we have here is the joining of protagonists – Mark Sabat and G.N. Strong – for the final showdown with The Reaper. As you’ve probably guessed from G.N.’s name, the retired private detective is undoubtedly based on the author himself. This is further backed up in this novel when Smith delves into G.N.’s upbringing and hobbies – a mirror image of his very own.

As you’d hope for and expect, the novel contains many classic Sabat traits, such as an evil black mass ritual which involves a human sacrifice, along with numerous links to an association with The Dark One. However, outside of this, the rest of the novel is perhaps more akin to that of a dark thriller.

Our pal, the Reaper, has built up connections with the Russian mafia. Through these connections, he’s able to undergo a major skin graft to completely change his appearance. He’s also able to call upon a couple of hired Russian hitmen to assist him with his mission of vengeance.

For all of this, Smith draws upon the real-life poisoning of Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess from 2018, which you may recall involved the use of the Novichok nerve agent. In Smith’s Sabat story, the hired hitmen utilise this deadly nerve agent, which is loaded into water pistols to spray a deadly jet of the liquid at their unfortunate victims. The results are horrific – as depicted in sadistic glee by Smith at every possible opportunity.

What’s also different about the book when compared with the other Sabat tales, is that for the majority of the tale Sabat is cooped up in G.N.’s farmhouse, drinking cups of tea and peering through the windows at the old farmyard outside. It’s all so quintessentially British, with these two retired protagonists keeping guard all night long, with shotguns resting upon their laps. Man, you’ve got to love it.

Although, I have to say, perhaps the most unsettling scene in the novel is the almost-geriatric sex scene between G.N. and his fancy lady – Parnel Mortimer. Despite G.N.’s heroic abilities with a shooting rifle, let’s not forget, the fella’s still well in his sixties. Parnel herself is knocking on the door of sixty too. As such, reading a passionate scene of carnal lovemaking between the two, did make me feel a little uneasy. I’ll leave it at that.

Interestingly, throughout the book we have the strange symbol (which looks like a three-dimensional ‘CIXI’) which Smith subtly included on the covers for the previous three Sabat books (look at the bottom corners of 3,4,5 and now 6). I vaguely recall Smith telling me about this symbol, how he was shown it by a woman who professed to be a white witch, and so he decided it would be interesting to include it on the Sabat covers. For this final book, the symbol again appears on the cover, as well as being used as a chapter breaker throughout the book.

All in all, the novel is another highly entertaining read that thunders along at a consistent and engaging pace. Each of the chapters are relatively short and snappy, utilising multiple perspectives to give the storyline plenty of body.

Personally, I wouldn’t say its one of Smith’s stronger offerings. In comparison to ‘Sabat 5: Wistman’s Wood’ (2018), it lacks the pulpiness and the pivotal connection to the occult. Instead, here we have a dark thriller that pulls in brief, almost offhanded references to the occult. I guess you could liken the novel to Shaun Hutson’s ‘Testament’ (2019) in many ways.

Nevertheless, it’s still well worth a read, and highly entertaining (from a fan perspective) to see Sabat paired up with fellow protagonist, G.N. Strong.

The novel runs for a total of 174 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Sabat’ instalments:

Collected Edition:


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