On the title page, not the cover, of Ebenezer by Duncan Ralston readers will find the following information: it is a Noir Crime Thriller and it is based on characters created by Charles Dickens. The 169-novelette published in 2018 is based on A Christmas Carol. And here is where assumptions can lead a reader astray. The cover is interesting with its hint of superspy 007. Just like one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, relying on the first few pages alone is also not reliable. In the first few pages, Ebenezer Scrooge and Marley appear as serious adversaries. My first reaction was Duncan Ralston endeavored to overcome writer’s block by choosing a classic to twist and bend a bit in pursuit of a mildly entertaining read. There is a lot more to this story than that. And it is more than mildly entertaining.
It is a challenge not to write spoilers for things that Duncan Ralston writes. I will refer to some events and characters and encourage readers to try it for themselves. On Amazon, it sells for USD 2.99 but I took advantage of Kindle Unlimited to read it for free. Ralston also writes in a genre I call extreme horror. This novel is not that. However, at the end of my Kindle edition, there is an invitation to his website. From there a reader can select several free stories to read in a browser, not a download. One of the stories was too extreme for me, for the other two, I have provided links below. By submitting an email address on Ralston’s website, the reader will receive a free copy of Where the Monsters Live: A Dark Revenge Thriller. I read Monsters and found it too extreme (pedophilia) for me to review.
It is not a spoiler to mention that Marley and Scrooge are professional assassins. Marley was Scrooge’s trainer and mentor when Scrooge, under a different name, was a teenager. As Scrooge grew up and established his own identity (Scrooge) he received an assignment to kill Marley. Both Scrooge and Marley worked for the same company but this is not a story of a big company avoiding pension payouts. Just because Marley is dead doesn’t mean he is through with Scrooge. Fans of Christmas Carol will have fun comparing updated characters with original Dickens characters. My favorite from the Ralston novel was the renovated Tiny Tim.
This can also be a novel of time travel because 1) ghosts do that and 2) that fits into the story on which this novel is based. There ARE the following elements: poverty, an orphanage, more than one long-running love story, and modern street gangs. There IS RARELY weird sex or gory violence. The absence of the last two elements made me check the author’s name to see if it was the same Ralston I had read previously in other stories.
And there are twists and surprises at the ending which make this an interesting read. I gave it four Amazon stars and will read almost anything Ralston writes. But I won’t review everything I read from him; I would have to sprinkle the review with trigger warnings.
Two of the free stories which can be read in a browser: