Inspector of the Dead – Book Review

Inspector of the Dead David Morrell Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company March 2015 Reviewed by TT Zuma Thriller author David Morrell, follows up his best selling historical fiction novel, Murder As A Fine Art, with the equally compelling, Inspector of The Dead. The sequel continues with the same cast while adding additional characters plucked from the headlines of the times (early to mid 1800’s). For those not familiar with the cast of Murder As A Fine Art, the novel s main protagonist is Thomas De Quincey, a drug addicted Victorian author and essayist mostly known for his autobiographical book, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. De Quincey has a superior but unappreciated mind when it comes to deduction and reasoning, which he uses to help law enforcement solve murder cases. De Quincey’s twenty-one year old, single daughter Emily, has devoted herself to her father’s care and she seldom leaves his side. In addition, there is the Scotland Yard constable named Becker and a Scotland Yard Detective named Ryan, both holdovers from Murder As A Fine Art who also figure prominently in Inspector Of The Dead. Inspector Of The Dead, opens with the murder of a prominent … [Read more...]

The Wolf At His Door Blog Tour: Whether To Say Weather

How’s the weather? Weather is easy to overlook in fiction unless it pertains purposefully to plot: the characters are trapped by a flood or left homeless by a tornado. The elements, however, can convey mood or setting. I think of when I was a child, waiting for the bus in the country. I loved the fog! It was eerie the way it changed my relationship with the world around me. I could no longer see the cornfield across the road or the neighbor’s house. Sounds echoed differently. Lights shimmered. The fog created a mood. In my novel Red Haze, I use slushy freezing rain to set the mood for a scene between a mother and daughter with a failing relationship: Marne plopped down on a bench at the edge of campus and pulled her phone out of her pocket. Her hair, wet and cold, clung to her face and icy water dripped from her nose. The phone buzzed in her ear and then her mother answered. Slush fell in angry clumps from tree branches, smacking the pavement. “Hello?” To Marne’s ears her mother’s tone sounded sharp. “Mom, it’s me.” “Marne, sweetheart, I’m surprised to hear from you again so soon.” Her voice did not warm. “Are things going well? How’s pledging … [Read more...]

Boom Town – Book Review

Boom Town Glenn Rolfe Samhain Publishing April 7, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter Boom Town by Glenn Rolfe is a terrifically entertaining novella with a great one-two punch of fun story and characters. This is Rolfe’s first book-length work that isn’t a ghost story, a topic he’s proven he can handle well. Here, he tackles science-fiction with a decidedly old school drive-in feeling and it’s nothing but fun. And once the sci-fi has kicked in the horror is close behind, body horror in this case, reading like some sort of iteration on THE BLOB. I imagine most reviews will note the similarities, because they are clear and present, but not doing so would be leaving something out. I found myself feeling like the story was taking place in the 1980s, some of the cultural references and the dialogue of the kids stand out as examples, but only those of us who grew up then will see those as the story is set firmly in the present. The plot centers on a close encounter of some thirty years past and the effects it had, allegedly, on a small town. The midwestern town experiences unexplainable seismic activity, the locals refer to them as “booms”, that seems to come from where a good old … [Read more...]

The Final Transmission – Book Review

The Final Transmission Brian F.H. Clement Damnation Books December 1st, 2013 Reviewed by Stuart Conover In ‘The Final Transmission’ Brian F.H. Clement delivers us a mixture of the occult and a crime procedural in his shockingly fun debut novel. Set in Toronto we follow Detective Benoit Michaud as he investigates a horrific crime scene that goes from horrid to so much worse. What was meant to be a sacrifice of one innocent life actually has the intended victim as well as the cult that was about to end their life having all been burned alive. When a cult is involved a suicide pact may be the first thing that runs through your mind but that quickly seems to be a misdirection. Were they all brought down by a serial killer? A vigilante targeting the cult? Or someone much much worse? Did I say someone? I may very possibly have meant something. Was this even a demon summoning gone wrong? In the book we have some great character development on the Detective’s part but he isn’t the only one in the spotlight as the best moments are when he interacts with his civilian assistant Karen Wendleton. Are they just friends, or is something else brewing beneath the surface. They have a … [Read more...]

Black Ceremonies – Book Review

Black Ceremonies Charles Black Parallel Universe Publications January, 2015 Reviewed by Jess Landry With nods to Miskatonic University, ocean-dwelling creatures and everyone’s favourite grimoire, fans of Lovecraft will appreciate the often subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) acknowledgements to one of horror’s most renowned talents in Black Ceremonies by author Charles Black. The collection of thirteen supernatural stories starts out with a few promising tales, but unfortunately loses steam as it draws to a close. The fatal flaw is that some of the narrative is a little awkward. Stories like The Obsession of Percival Cairstairs and The Necronomicon use the old-school, 1st person story structure (i.e.: narrator sees an old friend, old friend has a secret, narrator can only listen in shock and awe as old friend recounts horrific tale, bad thing happens to old friend), which is all fine and dandy, but their endings throw off any momentum that may have been building Percival Cairstairs, as an example, is told from the perspective of Henry Farringdon and ends its interlude with a nice twist, only to segue into an epilogue now told by another narrator (a character called … [Read more...]

Old Scratch and Owl Hoots – Book Review

Old Scratch and Owl Hoots: A Collection of Utah Horror Edited by C.R. Langille and R.L. Weston Griffin Publishers 2014 Reviewed by Michael R. Collings The subtitle to Old Scratch and Owl Hoots, a thoroughly enjoyable anthology edited by C.R. Langille and R.L. Weston, points directly to one of the more curious facts about modern American science fiction, fantasy, and horror: an unusually high number of well-received authors hail from one relatively small area in the Intermountain West. When considering horror in particular, readers do not generally think immediately of Utah—land of wide-open deserts and snow-capped mountains, of past Olympics and future vacations, of Temples and Tabernacles. Yet the fourteen tales in this Collection of Utah Horror aptly suggest the talents, the diversity, and the power to be found there. The “Foreword” by Tim Waggoner sets the stage for the stories by noting the appropriateness of the mythic Old West (and, implicitly, of the mythic New West) as a setting for horror: the necessary sense of isolation, physically, emotionally, and spiritually; and the frequency of legends, often associated with monsters of varying forms, that epitomize the … [Read more...]

The Boneyard – Book Review

The Boneyard Keith Minnion Crossword Press/Bad Moon Books September 26th, 2014 Reviewed by Sheri White It’s 1921 and John Randall Pitcairn is celebrating his sixth birthday. John is an orphan; his only friend a stable worker who isn’t allowed to the party. John’s Uncle Lucian surprises John with a special guest – a pilot with a biplane. Much to John’s delight, he is taken for ride into the sky. What happens during that flight is the beginning of a nightmare John and his friend from the stables, Billy, endure for the rest of their lives. Now 1983, Detective Francis Lomax is returning to work after a breakdown on the job. He is assigned to investigate a string of gruesome murders in which the victims are flayed open – their bones taken. Baffled by a lack of evidence to lead him to the killer, Fran begins to question what is real. But once he starts to connect the current murders to the awful event John Pitcairn experienced so long ago, Fran realizes he is dealing with an evil force he has no idea how to handle. Keith Minnion has been well-known for his beautiful, disturbing art featured in genre magazines and anthologies. The Boneyard is his first novel, and it is … [Read more...]

3 Gates of the Dead – Book Review

3 Gates of the Dead Jonathan Ryan Premier Digital Publishing 2013 Reviewed by Michael Collings Jonathan Ryan’s 3 Gates of the Dead, the first book in his 3 Gates Series, does not read like a novel…or, rather, it reads like the best kind of novel. There is much about the book that should militate against it, particularly as a horror novel intended for a general market; the most important point, perhaps, is that it focuses on religion and religious issues—overtly, in characters, events, and content; and covertly, as it were, in theme and subtext. Yet, for equally specific reasons, it does succeed and succeeds admirably. Much of that success occurs because—to repeat myself—it reads like the best kind of novel, surmounting many of the limitations implicit in horror and religious fiction. For me, it does so through its essential authenticity: authentic characters, both religious and non-religious, speak to each other and to readers using authentic language, diction, and tone, to explore what turn into authentic-seeming encounters with the supernatural. Ryan’s skill is such that for long passages, I forgot I was reading as a reviewer; forgot that, as always, I was reading as an … [Read more...]

Carpenter’s Corner: An Introduction

Carpenter's Corner By David Wing Welcome to Carpenter’s Corner, a monthly segment where we look at the works of the maestro of mayhem, John Carpenter, in all his cinematic and musical glory. We may even at times mention his moustache. A little background: John Carpenter was born in New York State but moved at a young age to Kentucky where he began to cultivate a love of low budget horror/sci-fi films and the Western films of the late, great Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo, 1959). In 1970, while still in film school, Carpenter co-wrote, edited and scored The Resurrection of Broncho Billy, which went on to win the Best Live Action Short Film Academy Award. This was just the beginning of Carpenter’s long and influential career. Having more or less retired (despite a brief foray back to directing in 2010 with The Ward) Carpenter has focused more on music and on February 3rd, 2015, we saw the release of his album John Carpenter’s Lost Themes, a work of haunting brilliance that’s housed within the realm of Carpenter’s worlds. His style is a blend of Halloween’s terrifying ‘Ca ca ca ca ca’ and in the excellent track Fallen, we get strong hints of Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack. To listen … [Read more...]

Plants vs. Zombies: Timepocalypse – Book Review

Plants vs Zombies: Timepocalypse Written by Paul Tobin Art by Ron Chan Dark Horse Books January, 2015 Reviewed by Jess Landry Fans of the overabundance that is the Plants vs. Zombies franchise (the games, the slot machines, the stuffed animals, the planetary domination, etcetera, etcetera), here’s something else to add to your collection. The slow-witted zombies and adorably violent plants, along with some human companions, are back in action in their latest graphic adventure: Plants vs. Zombies: Timepocalypse. In Timepocalypse, the evil Dr. Edgar Zomboss has finished the sun vacuum, a device that absorbs the sun and all of its energy, rendering the plants powerless in the fight against the zombies. When one particularly absent-minded zombie puts some Pop Smarts into the sun vacuum (rather than the toaster in front of him), the device explodes causing a rift in reality that shoots parts of the sun vacuum throughout space and time. The only option? Send the zombies back in time (and into the future) to retrieve the parts before anyone notices. On the human/plant side of things, redneck genius Crazy Dave (y’know, the guy with a pot on his head) has created his very own … [Read more...]