Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil might be a book of horror for parents. Emma was a single parent living with her parents and son Aiden in the small town of Bishoptown, population 400. It was said to be the second smallest village in England and was separated into two parts by the river Ouse. On one of those life-changing days, Emma had to cross the river to pick up six-year-old Aiden from school. It was raining so hard that many villagers concluded the bridge joining the village together would soon be swept away. Hurrying to cross the bridge before it was too late, Emma lost her balance due to high waves and landed on a riverbank on the side where the school was located. The river had taken her phone and one boot. Still, she had made it to the school where she met a very worried teacher and former friend, Amy. Near tears, Amy told Emma that Aiden had wandered off somewhere. The search was on; almost everyone in the village participated.
In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill is a 62-page Kindle Single on sale at Amazon for USD 3.99. No option for a free Kindle Unlimited read. However, there is life before, during and after Amazon. I read this short novel as part of my Scribd subscription. The immediate attraction for me was the name Stephen King, a guarantee of good writing. The same is true for Joe Hill and I was curious to see how two excellent writers would collaborate in a mix of writing styles.
In forty-three pages, authors Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan in A Face in the Crowd complete a review of the life of Dean Evers. As with many reviews, there will be a final assessment. As with many reviews, the examination will be detailed and presented part by part. Dean did not even ask for the review; it began on its own.
Dean was an old man living alone in Florida, an unintended headquarters for old men living alone. This was somewhat amazing since the life expectancy of women is longer than that of women. Where is the headquarters of old women living alone? I digress. Dean had a friend, Kaz, and they got together occasionally for golf but more often their communication was by phone. Kaz and Dean had been friends since high school, had run together in either a pack or a gang. These days, in his later and last years, Dean’s friend was either a television or an occasional paperback novel. The television went together better with the beers that he liked to consume during a baseball game. A guy could get so engrossed in a paperback the beer would get warm. Television was better. The only thing annoying about the televised games were the people waving to get the attention of cameras. They took his attention away from the game.
Avenues Of Darkness is a short story collection with eight tales by Stuart Byng. There is an unpredictable twist at the end of each story. See if you can predict the twist at the end of each of the following stories. I predicted the ending of four of the eight stories. The unpredictable ending of the other four made this an interesting, although quick, read.
I liked the Table of Contents (TOC) for When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker. Suspense is built right away as parts of the novel have differing numbers of chapters. The parts go from January to August. March and May have only two chapters; the final part, August, has nine chapters. It is going to be a very busy August. Already impressed by the TOC, there is an impressive twist on pages two and three of Part One, January, Chapter One. What a resounding start!
Hide and Seek by Jack Ketchum is an emotional, action, horror story. That is in reverse order. The horror part of the story is based on a tried and true element, an ancient almost one-hundred-year-old abandoned house. Its original owners, Ben and Mary Crouch, had simply abandoned it. The brother and sister couple, both of whom were considered mentally feeble, had gotten behind on mortgage or tax payments. Warned of imminent foreclosure, they had simply disappeared. Perhaps they had taken some of their dogs with them, but twenty-three were left behind. Confined and hungry, they presented a challenge to the police officers who responded to a call based on neighbor complaints. After throwing food, some possibly tainted with drugs, into the house, the officers waited for the noise of dogs fighting for food to abate before entering the house. They found heaps of garbage, old newspapers, items that could only be considered junk, and general filth. The house remained empty until a doctor bought it, tried to renovate at least parts of it, but eventually gave up either out of frustration or perhaps due to a sinister implied threat from the disappeared Ben and Mary Crouch. Abandoned again, the house fascinated the curious, usually young, inhabitants of Dead River.
Panacea by Zacharius Frost is described by the author in a subtitle as a Demonic Experiments Horror Novel. The book’s subtitle is catching and ambitious. It promises more than the novel delivered.
The novel begins with an interesting chapter. When I try to write comments or a review I attempt not to insert spoilers. With this novel, Frost wrote his own spoiler. Chapter One is good, captivating, and offers something possibly new. Unfortunately, it is extreme foreshadowing. Hinting at events to come is one thing but giving almost the entire story away is like shooting oneself in the foot. At page 236 of a 285-page novel (85%), the rest of the novel has caught up to Chapter One. Because I always knew where the end point of the story was, I was fairly bored by the content but read the entire book because I wanted to see if there were any unheralded events along the way that would provide some excitement and I was curious to see if there was anything in the rest of the novel that was not in Chapter One. There was.
Hell’s Nerds and Other Tales by Stephen Lomer starts out good and gets better. The “twisty” parts of the short stories twist and turn in more and more unexpected ways. Reading earlier tales will not train a reader for what to expect in later stories. Did the author do this on purpose? How does he know what will impress me? A couple of notes on this too-quick read follow. I wanted to read more but the only way that is going to happen is to read other Lomer works. I’ll get on that right away.
The cover of my Kindle edition of Game of Greed by Charlotte Larsen describes this novel as a Francis Scott-Wren Crime Thriller. True, Francis Scott-Wren is the main character, the head of one powerful business organization with a mission to at least attenuate the greed and corruption of predatory business entities with a disregard for humanitarian concerns. True, he is unbelievably wealthy due to inheritance and he is willing to spend unbelievable amounts on his self-declared mission. And he has built up an intelligence organization that rivals those of many governments through the time-tested strategy of hiring disaffected employees from those same government agencies. As a leader of such an organization, it seems to follow that Francis will assume the façade of a dilettante playboy and womanizer while still maintaining a heart that is pure. Some might think this could lead to a split personality resembling schizophrenia but there is the controlling element of a pure heart. Then there are ninjas, but we may come back to that.
Just in case the Muse stops by (leave breadcrumbs, it works) ask for her inspiration for reaction to the picture…