Title: Closed at Dark
Publication Info: Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2014
Previously read by same author:
This novella by my college friend Rob Blackwell introduces a new series about Soren Chase, a paranormal investigator. This story combines parental fears of “stranger danger,” urban legends, and supernatural monsters to create an intriguing mystery thriller as Chase tries to figure out who – or what – is trying to abduct his long-time friend’s child. The characterization is a bit thin, but I expect it will develop as did the characters in Blackwell’s Sanheim Chronicles. We’ll find out soon when Soren Chase’s first full novel The Forest of Forever is released.
Author: Andrew Mayne
Title: The Monster in the Mist
Publication Info: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
I got this eBook as a special deal for Kindle on Amazon, not knowing much about it other than it was a mystery set in Boston in 1890 with a steampunk vibe. April Malone is a young woman whose mysterious job is to tend an office where no one works and take lessons on various esoteric topics. All of this is preparation for the arrival of the also mysterious man who just goes by the name Smith who emerges from behind a steel door one day and sets the pair on investigating several disappearances of people in Boston. Smith is reminiscent of The Doctor from Doctor Who (who also sometimes goes by the name Smith) and the relationship of April Malone and Smith owes a debt to Holmes & Watson, but it’s not entirely derivative. I was won over by the first part of this book, but less enamored with the latter half. This is because Smith goes off on his own adventure and while ultimately aided by April, I think the book lacks something when not seen from her perspective as well as the interesting chemistry between the two characters. This book is the first in a series of Chronological Man Adventures, and I hope that in future installments that two leads stay together.
Recommended books: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl, The Alienist by Caleb Carr, and The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch.
Author: Rob Blackwell
Title: A Soul To Steal
Publication Info: CreateSpace (2011)
A couple of disclosures before I begin this review. First, I know the author as we went to college together and more importantly were both DJ’s at the college radio station, WCWM. Second, I’ve always been drawn to “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” – partly because I grew up 45 minutes from the town in New York (then known as North Tarrytown) and visited frequently – and the Headless Horseman is a prominent feature of Blackwell’s novel. The story is part crime novel, part thriller, part supernatural and an original amalgam of all the above. Set in a small town in Virginia, two reporters for a local paper Quinn and Kate have to deal with the return of serial killer who tormented the town a dozen years earlier. This would be bad enough but each character has personal demons to face as well, some of which appear in very tangible forms. There are a few flaws to the book as events transpire and relationships form far too rapidly to be believable. I also wonder why when Quinn runs a journalist’s writings through software that can help identify the author why he doesn’t do the same with the letters of the serial killer Lord Halloween (other than that the mystery would have been solved a hundred pages earlier). These flaws can be overlooked though because this book really is a page turner and has moments of being very unsettling and very humorous. The ending promises a sequel that I forward to reading.
Recommended books: The Dark Half by Stephen King, The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen, and Capitol Hell by Joseph M. Pendal.