Braunbeck is a master of the evocative dark fantasy novel. Few authors are as capable of generating as much emotion as he is in a genre that is too often frowned upon for over-the-top gore or simplistic storylines. Braunbeck is willing to take his themes to the max, with no simple solutions or easy answers.
In MR. HANDS we are introduced to a young man with psychic abilities who can use his supernatural skills to seek out pain and evil and destroy it. However, those in the greatest pain are children without hope and destined to awful ends, and in providing mercy killings, the young man is dubbed a serial killer. After many years of following his calling, and gathering the ghosts of these children inside himself, his power has grown much stronger. Eventually this mystical power comes in contact with a mother whose missing daughter is feared the victim of a sexual predator. Her rage and pain are able to call upon this energy and give it the face and body of a small wooden doll. It's also given a name. MR. HANDS.
Now MR. HANDS is on a mission of vengeance and offers absolutely no mercy to those he is set in motion against. Not even when a mistake is made and an innocent might have to suffer.
Braunbeck makes us feel all the driving forces of his characters. The confusion, fear, anger, misunderstandings, and unresolved hurts. His characters are fully human, with all the frailties and faults the rest of us have. His wonderfully imaginative story is gripping, horrifying, and provocative, with enough blood to satisfy the gorehounds but also strengthened by a superior writing style. The fantastical elements in the novel all serve the purpose of underscoring the conflicted nature of the human condition. Serious and thoughtful, this is horror at its best.