I was very impressed by the depth of research and skillful weaving of science and fiction to create a mystery in Nocturne in Ashes by Joslyn Chase. Find my review of Nocturne at this link (opens in a new window) https://ron877.com/2019/05/15/an-explosive-mystery/. I should not have been surprised to be challenged with new knowledge, that is how Chase writes. I did not know what a “Paraquel” is. I thought about it for a while. Give it up, where is my Google? I could have waited for Chase to explain the term, but where is the fun in that?
Readers may be familiar with the idea that before publication, writers are sometimes left with too much “stuff.” They are urged by stoic editors to “kill off their darlings.” Do writers obey? Probably not, but they confine their errant ideas into an easily recoverable bin from which they may retrieve editorial rejects, spin them around a bit, and offer a new and additional perspective on previously published work. Take that, evil editors. Think of a set of parentheses that enclose not sentences but chapters. Writers sit at their workstations thinking of their readers while musing, “I wanted to tell this part of the story, but money-minded publishers would not allow it.” A Paraquel is an answer to that. Readers should recognize characters and settings from Nocturne in Ashes seamlessly integrating into the new story but different that is Steadman’s Blind.
Steadman is a veteran cop on a mission. Ordered to neighboring Mountain Vista on a mission to investigate a murder, there is little in the way of backup and support. Mt. Rainier has blown a gasket (although not its top), and the small town has been completely cut off from communication with the outside world. Before the cut-off, however, there was a call for help. There is the possibility that a serial killer known as the Puget Sound Slasher is hiding out in the town, And the suspect has not stopped killing.
Chase insists that the two novels, Blind and Ashes, are stand-alone but it would make the reading experience better if Nocturne was written first. I agree. The two novels are different in their character perspectives. Nocturne is more cerebral and expects the reader to “get” musical and artistic great publications along with cultural references. I failed the test frequently, but I found the story fun and didn’t mind side trips to the dictionary. All exchanges are in the context of mysterious murders happening; they are believed to be the work of a serial killer.
Blind is more of an action story. Officers Steadman and Frost plow steadily through this second novel as Chief Deputy Steadman takes Detective Frost under his wing as a novice cop. They will go to the murder scene and find a note further directing them to Mountain View. There is something I found strange about Frost’s background, one which was tied to his mother. I was not able to figure out the cause of my misgivings by the conclusion of the Steadman novel.
The novel has torture and the attempted kidnapping by Dart Rose of Maddie Swensen. This story was a teenage romance gone off the rails. There is an actual cliffhanger that has nothing to do with today’s follow-on story. There is a budding romance between Detective Frost and Lieutenant Jamison. There are a lot of subplots to keep the reader interested and moving.
Joslyn Chase sent me an ARC of Steadman’s Blind and mentioned the book would be published in November 2019. This post will appear on Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub once I am told the final date of publication. Just like Nocturne, I found this read a one session page-turner and gave it five Amazon stars.
I found it interesting to try to find the name of the serial killer. I believe I have detected the possibility of three killers in each book. What fun for the police!! My definition of who might be a serial killer or the right one to do the job in this novel are not points on which other readers, or even Joslyn Chase, will agree. That makes this a good novel for a book club discussion.
I will update this post to reflect the price and formats of the story as information becomes available.