The Third Parent by Elias Witherow is a novel of extreme horror, fantasy, and a cry for social responsibility when bad things happen. Neighbors should help neighbors. Teachers should investigate situations where something is obviously out-of-whack. Parents should always be able to protect their children. The novel opens with the transcript of a 911 call. A situation has already gone too far so there is a plea for help. But this situation was beyond police help.
The Serial Killer’s Wife by Robert Swartwood grabs reader attention right away with a catchy title. Given that a serial killer might have a wife, is she then automatically either willingly or unwillingly an accomplice? We learn in the first few pages that Sarah Walter is working as a teacher’s assistant, so she must not have been considered an accomplice. But Sarah is also Elizabeth Piccione and Elizabeth’s husband is in jail for multiple murders. Serial killers once caught tend to attract publicity and Eddie’s trial had plenty of that. Despite not truly believing Eddie had done such a thing, there had been absolutely no hints of violent behavior and no spousal abuse, Elizabeth felt she and son Matthew had to disappear. She enlisted two close friends to help her, changed her name, and fled from all the publicity in order to provide a more normal life for her son. But there were those that felt by fleeing she had admitted complicity in the crime. Several people with different motives wanted to find her. The one that she feared the most was a self-serving author/journalist/blogger, Clarence Applegate.
Water Under the Bridge by Britney King has a very telling, prediction like sentence early in the story: “We didn’t pretend we were something we weren’t until we did …” (p.11). This novel is all about pretending up until the time reality is forced upon the main characters. This is a story about the tumultuous relationship between Jude (or Ryan) and Lydia (or Kate or Callie ). Their relationship has gone obviously bad since we join them the beginning of the tale in a courtroom where they have just been sentenced to marriage. They wanted a divorce and the judge was willing to grant it, conditionally. They would first have to go through several weeks of marriage counseling. The judge’s final decision would be based on a doctor’s report of the results. Character reflections on the origins of their relationship and their divergent paths leading to the courtroom provide readers great story content in this psychological thriller.
Broketown by David Wheeler is an excellent novel but one not to read if you are in a dark mood. If you feel that life is too routine, that there is nothing in the future that will ever improve on the current condition, that everybody is flawed and the best thing you can do is retreat within yourself and ignore unpleasantness, you are in a dark mood. This book will reinforce those feelings. On finishing this novel, I had an overwhelming feeling of despair. There was also my feeling of sadness about a life wasted in mostly meaningless activities just to fill the time until death arrives to the rescue. After reading this I will move on to a novel with graphic violence and horror just to wake up from the ennui generated by this novel. So it may come as a surprise to read that I liked this novel a lot.
Kind Nepenthe by Mathew V. Brockmeyer lives up to the claims on its cover in every way. This tale is dark, macabre, terrifying, and suspenseful. And it takes place in California (of course). This is a novel I highly recommend and give it five plus stars with a caveat; it only gets that rating for a selected audience. This is not your YA genre. But for those who like the weird and far out there, this is it, you have arrived. Brockmeyer is very adept at weaving plot and character development with implications and subtle suggestions of what is to come to produce an excellent, fast moving read. With a novel that contains so many dark and twisted characters, the absence of salacious, gratuitous sex is amazing. Whatever sex there is arrives mostly by implication readers have to take responsibility for and look to their inner self-censors.
Fatal Remedy by Antonia Felix has an eye-catching cover which led me to the Amazon page where I read an interesting blurb listing the issues that the novel was based on. Drug abuse in the form of a doctor prescribing drugs for personal gain, corporate medical complicity in falsifying drug testing before release of a drug to the general public, and an out-of-control sexual predator who happens to be a psychiatrist are a few of the problems examined in this work of fiction. This 2014 publication is a work of fiction by an author with ten biographies to her credit so I was looking forward to a good fiction read. It didn’t quite work out that way.
The Scream of Silence by Pamela Crane features the improbably named Destiny Childs, the 15-year-old unmarried mother of Baby Childs. Destiny was hopeful when she did not hear the first screams of her baby. The baby would be something less to worry about. The scream she heard signaled profound disappointment for Destiny. But at least other parents were waiting for her, parents already selected for financial and emotional stability. Destiny didn’t even have to hold the child once; the adoptive parents were at the hospital. But Destiny kept up with the birth parents. She was happy that they and her birth daughter were rich. So why did Destiny feel so sad when she saw the TV news report of now 23-year-old daughter Clarissa’s murder?