The Criss-Cross man,
The Criss-Cross man,
Fetch yourself a holy man
Do it fast
Fast as you can,
Because here comes Houlihan,
The Criss-Cross man—“
This dark rhyme is said by Malingo when Candy is being held captive by Kaspar Wolfswinkel. Otto Houlihan is a notorious character among the Abaratians. His crimes are apparently numerous. He is employed by the man known as absolute evil throughout the land, Lord of Midnight Christopher Carrion.
He has checkerboard tattoos on his face, which is probably where the nickname Criss-Cross Man comes from. To me, personally, he isn’t much of a deep character. He is lieutenant and assassin that serves Carrion, but there doesn’t seem to be much depth after that. It is mentioned that he used to go to school with fellow badman Kaspar Wolfswinkel, but until book two it seems he is merely a hunter that Candy and Malingo run from.
The first part of book two deals with his relentless pursuit of the two after their adventures in the Twenty-Fifth Hour at the end of book one. As I will post later in my summary, the prologue of book two only seems to show a few purposes. One is that even a fearful man such as Houlihan can show fear, though it seems quite minimal. It also reestablishes his role as “evil guy chasing good girl.” And my favorite part of the series, we get to see Christopher Carrion grab his Nightmares out of their tank and let them feed on the fear of a man who worked for him. Their snaky, lightning forms wrap around the man as he screams in horrid pain, and then the man dies. The Nightmares crawl back to Carrion, waiting for the next meal.
I don’t know why, but there’s just something about a character who has semi-corporeal forms of his own nightmares rubbing against his skin to relive them that is just amazing to me… Whoops, I’ve shifted focus.
So, Houlihan the Criss-Cross man fills the role as hunter, or as TVTropes puts it, The Dragon. And though there is not much depth there, it is still a fun read when he chases Candy through a carnival freak show and various other places.