runner

runner

I live in Bristol UK horror dark fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

Review
1 Stars
Cliche-ridden tale of nonsense
Speak the Dead by Grant McKenzie (2015-10-01) - Bentley Little;P. Gardner Goldsmith;Lorne Dixon;Michael A. Arnzen;Pat MacEwen;Ray Garton;Ian Withrow;John F.D. Taff;Jeff Strand;Kevin Lucia;Benjamin Kane Ethridge;Shane McKenzie;Steve Vernon;Charles Colyott;Taylor Grant;Dev Jarrett;Eric J. Guignard;J. S.

Jersey Castle, tough homicide detective, called to the scene of a RTA where it would appear the husband has driven over his partner and a little later commits suicide. Salvation Blue, or Sally as she prefers (thank goodness!) is also present at the accident and has the uncanny gift of seeing events unfold through the eyes of the victim...she is the "Seer". Sally has been working peacefully as a morticians beautician for the last 25 years, aware of her turbulent childhood, and haunted by her dead mother's last words...Run Sally Run! There is a connection between Sally and the Church of a Sabbath Day's Journey. Aedan, dutiful husband, has finally found her and determined to return Sally to her rightful position in the church as the Seer of Visions....."I'm Aedan. Your husband." It took Sally a moment to adjust to the news. "Husband?" Aedan nodded. "That is why I never gave up looking for you. It was my duty."....

 

Jersey together with the beautiful Kameela..."A tall strikingly handsome woman with skin the color of bittersweet chocolate and curly hair so short it could have been a woolen skullcap" immediately leave in search of Sally (it would appear that on first meeting Jersey was instantly smitten!)

 

I found this story somewhere between a B movie and a badly written made for tv series, with the stories, descriptions, characters and eventual outcome laughable. Look at this paragraph on Jersey's first encounter with Kameeela..."untouchable runway model-all pouty lips and attitude-or a disemboweling Zulu warrior. Either way, she made him nervous. Perhaps sensing his anxiety the woman opened her lips to revel a blinding and utterly captivating smile. A bright pink tongue followed as she plucked a flake of tobacco off its tip." There is a final scene where a group of bike driving nuns, a cross between hells angels and ninja warriors, (are we serious!) attempt to make a forced entrance at the church's stronghold....Sister Mary Theresa turned to her pack of nuns and quickly gave instructions. Instantly, two nuns broke right and two went left. Each pair glided their bikes silently away from the gate until they reached the far side of the two homes. Hidden from view of anyone looking out, the nuns propped their sturdy machines against the eight-foot stone wall. As Jersey watched, the ninja-black nuns, hopped onto their saddles, stood up tall, and scrambled over the wall. One half of each pair carried a lariat, the other, a shotgun. The maneuver was so perfectly executed, Jersey wondered if the Mission of the Immaculate Heart had been recruiting women from the Navy Seals." At his stage in the story I would not have been surprised if that all American hero Audie Murpy together with his trusty sidekick John Wayne had made a dramatic entrance to aid those ninja warrior nuns!!

 

Some months ago I read The Butcher's Son by Grant Mckenzie and really enjoyed describing him as an exciting new name in the thriller genre. Unfortunately "Speak the Dead" has proved to be a cliché ridden tale of nonsense, superhero hollow characters with egos to match, and a storyline silly in the extreme. I received a copy of this book from the good people at edelweiss for a fair and honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
4 Stars
Fast paced well crafted crime thriller
Nothing But Trouble - Kerry Wilkinson
DI Jessica Daniel is having a busy day. Two prisoners escape in a smash and grab incident on the busy motorway network around Manchester. Soon afterwards one of them is found dead, hanging from a bridge over the M62. A lone pensioner fears for his personal safety and he is about to become the victim of a future crime..."He's called us ten times today and about a dozen times yesterday. He says people are breaking into his house but nobody at your end's doing anything. Sounds like a bit of a nutter to me....." There are rumours of an illegal bare-knuckled championship with the supposed appearance of British middleweight Champion Liam "nine fingers" Flanagan. There are fears of a gang turf war spilling over onto the streets of Manchester. Jessica's personal life is equally chaotic. She questions her relationship with colleague Archie Davey and the guilt she holds about fiancé Adam..."Jessica's fiancé Adam, was still in a coma, the doctors unsure if he'd ever wake up. She should be spending evenings at his side, not with another man..." She feels a responsibility to her lodger Bex, a young lady who Jessica rescued from a life on the streets. now facing the ultimate test when Bex's drug addicted mother makes an unwelcome appearance. The author does a wonderful job of controlling all these separate threads and presenting them in a very readable and exciting form. He most certainly writes with a certain flair and panache and I love the way he starts is book with a cliff hanger and ends in the same fashion. The conclusion in particular leaves a doubt over the future wellbeing of one of the central characters and ensures that the reader will return for the next exciting instalment. A bit like those old silent black and white movies with the heroine tied to the railway track! A great big thank you to the good people of netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of this book for a fair and honest review and that is what I have written. I most certainly will be returning for the future adventures of DI Jessica Daniel and in the hands of her creator Kerry Wilkinson that can only be a good thing as he matures and perfects his style.
Review
3 Stars
The horrors of the Great War
The Last Casualty - Andrew Leatham
Following the demise of her Nan Joanne Neally, whilst inspecting the old ladies possessions, discovers documents relating the death of her great grandfather Wilfred Isherwood during the Great War. She is intrigued, and eager to discover more and visits Arthur, an old army colleague of Wilf's, still alive in a residential home. She is horrified to learn the conditions that her great grandfather endured at the battle of Passchendaele and his ultimate fate. Forsaking family life, an abusive husband Frank, sacked from her place of employment, she travels to the Ypres area of Belgium. I do have a few issues with this story, and find it hard to understand why this independent and single minded woman should remain in a relationship with such a controlling man as Frank. He is a bully and a drunk , a man subject to fits of temper expecting his spouse to attend to his every needs while he drinks away the family budget at the local public house. It also seems totally implausible that Joanne would immediately abandon her children and travel to Belgium especially as repossession of the family home is now a distinct possibility. However even more absurd Joanne, whilst drinking at the hotel bar makes the acquaintance of a local man, Jacques Freyhoek, and in a very short time they retire to her bedroom for a night of passion! When he leaves the following morning she is horrified to discover that her wedding/engagement rings, passport and money are all missing! How could this intelligent woman be so easily misled and tricked. Disillusioned and disheartened she pays a final trip to Wilf's grave and as she stands alone amongst the sad departed a voice calls out her name......her drunken, controlling, abusive partner Frank has found her and pleads with her to return home...This intelligent, attractive woman apologises to her husband for her behaviour and returns to the family nest where presumably the bullying and abusive behaviour continue.... I enjoyed the ideals behind this story and many of the descriptions..."The small talk of soldiers, young men from opposite sides of the world with nothing in common except a burning desire to survive, to escape, to return to a way of life in which destruction suffering and death was not commonplace"....However the characters were feeble and it seemed to me hopelessly impossible that a woman, with such a burning ambition and single mindedness could be so inadequate and weak in dealing with a very abusive and controlling partner. Equally her decisions whilst in Belgium were totally at odds with her reasons for visiting. Having said that I quite enjoyed reading this short story as it detailed the life and sordid conditions that young soldiers faced on a daily basis on the killing fields of France. Many thanks to the good people of netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and that is what I have written.
Review
4 Stars
Unsettling yet compulsive reading
Disappearance at Devil's Rock: A Novel - Paul Tremblay

This was certainly different and I had a real problem with the author's writing style from the start. The way he phrased sentences and presented the various characters as they related to each other reminded me of studying Shakespeare at school!....

Josh: "You were playing on our server?"

Tommy:"What's the big deal?"

Arnold: "No worries. I was on some public one. Not yours."

Josh: "How'd  you know Tommy was playing then?"

Arnold: "Huh? Nah, I didn't know."

Josh: "You just said you did."

This rather irritating way of placing the speakers name at the start, inserting a colon immediately after, and then stating what was said....

 

Now having established my concerns, I must admit I was someone smitten with the suggestive and creeping horror. Elizabeth Sanderson is awoken to the news that her son Tommy is missing. What happened on the final night when he disappeared at Devil's Rock when in the company of his friends Louis, Joss and the mysterious Arnold. What is the significance of dark shadows, the crack-head penny, and mysterious notes that appear randomly at night for Elizabeth's attention. Who can she trust; daughter Kate? mum Janice? Detective Allison Murtagh? I read this story over a 24 hour period and found its content very unsettling, the character of Arnold somewhat evil, and the outcome for Tommy, Louis, and Joss sadly inevitable. The events that took place on one fateful night at Devil's Rock cannot fail but make a lasting impression on the reader and that surely must be the mark of a good book.

Review
2 Stars
Three excellent stories in a mediocre collection
18 Wheels of Horror: A Trailer Full of Trucking Terrors - Janet Joyce Holden, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Edward M. Erdelac, John Palisano, Brad C. Hodson, Del Howison, Eric Miller, Hal Bodner, Ray Garton

The two stars are for the three short stories in this collection that I enjoyed...."Lucky" by Del Howison follows a female truck driver Ray, the tough life she has chosen and the somewhat sad ending makes for excellent reading."Roadkill" where our narrator is travelling home to wife and family in Chicago. It would appear he needs to hurry as she is fleeing the family nest and taking the children with her. Over the airwaves he meets a fellow trucker by the name of Buzzsaw and from this point the story goes in a rather bloody and horror filled direction. A great shock and unexpected turn of events makes for a superb conclusion. "A dark Road" by Ray Garton has a similar theme with a lonely trucker Spence "Sidewinder", passing the time conversing with fellow roadies over the airwaves...."C'mon truckers," the voice said. "I know you're out there. Traveling the highways like blood flowing through veins and arteries. That's what you are, you know, you're the blood in America's veins, you truckers. Somebody's gotta have their ears on out there somewhere. Come on back." He gets talking to a fellow night owl Sam Shephard and we soon realize that Spence is not quite the nice guy he might appear having committed a somewhat surprising act before leaving on his latest trip, and he begins to suspect that Sam Shephard knows a little too much. Rather than reveal anymore of the plot and conclusion I will only say that Ray Garton proves once again why he is a great horror writer and produces a fantastic story that is brilliant in both timing and execution!

 

So what we have are three excellent stories in a somewhat mediocre compilation. The book however does  show  how difficult, lonely and unusual the life of a trucker can be, with the beautiful CB language used by those kings of the road.

Review
5 Stars
I love John Rebus!
Saints Of The Shadow Bible - Ian Rankin

John Rebus, newly returned to the force and rescued temporarily from an obscure retirement. The main condition of his reinstatement is the demotion of his rank from Detective Inspector to Detective Sergeant. He is working under the auspices of Siobhan Clarke who ironically is now promoted to DI, of no real concern to Rebus as he is just pleased to have been returned to his old hunting ground.

 

Rebus and Clarke arrive at the scene of an accident; a VW Golf travelling at speed suddenly leaves the road and impacts with an oak tree. It would appear there is only one casualty, Jessica Traynor, but Rebus is suspicious that Traynor was not actually the driver and is covering for this unknown person who has fled the scene. As with all Rankin books events as initially portrayed rarely tell the truth and as avid fans will be pleased to know, on closer investigation, our two intrepid heroes discover unscrupulous underhand activity with political undertones. The author is very fond of introducing a secondary plot and usually  involves John Rebus at a different time in his career. Malcolm Fox (just returned from the Complaints/Professional Standards dept) is investigating a newly reopened 30 year old case. At that time it could be argued that police enforcement was more akin to an episode of "Life on Mars" (British tv series 2007 where officers were content to physically abuse a suspect in order to attain a confession) and Fox is tasked with investigating the suspicious death of Douglas Merchant, the seemingly unreliable evidence of snitch Billy Saunders, and the shadowy underhand involvement of "Saint of the Shadow Bible" a number of police colleagues who swore a bond on something called the shadow bible.

 

However, all of the above is I feel incidental to what is really at the heart of Ian Rankin's writing; his Scottishnes and his unbelievable drawing of characters, in particular John Rebus. Rebus is an isolated individual, separated from his wife Rhona and daughter Samantha, living a lonely existence in his Marchmont flat, surrounded by his booze, cigarettes and endless vinyl records of 70's/80's  music icons...."He led the way up two flights of stairs to the door to his flat. Unlocked it and scooped up the mail before switching on  the hallway light. She followed him into the living room. The ashtray next to his armchair needed emptying. A couple of beer bottles sat alongside, plus an empty whisky glass." Rebus is best described as an old fashioned "dogged" copper, not for him meetings, protocols and endless google searches....and this is what makes us love him!..."She hadn't known John Rebus long, but she knew he was good at this, like a bloodhound given a scent and then left to do what it was best at. Form-filling and protocols and budget meetings were not Rebus's thing-never had been and never would be. His knowledge of the internet was rudimentary and his people skills were woeful....he was a breed of copper that wasn't supposed to exist anymore, a rare and endangered species."

 

D I Siobhan is the complimentary opposite to Rebus and holds a great respect and platonic love for him. She is highly intelligent and understands how JR operates, curtailing even cautioning him but values his deep understanding of the criminal mind and how it operates. She feels for him and worries about him; his out of control drinking, smoking, loneliness and what, she wonders, will finally become of him when he is no longer able to operate and contribute to the Scottish Constabulary.

 

I as a reader adore John Rebus, I see him as a real and living individual and for that I hold the greatest admiration for his creator Ian Rankin. I highly recommend this book and in closing this review leave the parting words to Detective Sergeant John Rebus..."I'm from the eighties, Peter- I'm not the newfangled touchy-feely model. Now get out of my f***ing car!"

Review
5 Stars
Superb!
The Impossible Dead - Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin to me will always be synonymous with John Rebus but Rebus, although still fighting crime, is in retirement and so its good to meet a new hero in town DI Malcolm Fox. He's working in the complaints dept(internal affairs to you and me) and together with two comrades has been sent to the kingdom of Fife to investigate the strange case of Detective Paul Carter. Carter who has been found guilty of misconduct and it is feared that fellow officers have been complicit in a cover-up. The Complaints Dept look into corruption within the police force, their own ranks, and are thus never popular. What starts as a simple case becomes ever more complicated and takes Fox and his team on a dangerous journey stretching back some 30years which will result in uncovering wrong doing at the highest echelons of Scottish Society... This is an excellent story, taut, well told, intelligent with a very satisfying outcome. There are few authors who can command such respect as Ian Rankin and once again he proves to be a master of the crime genre with a character driven tale immersed deep in the local Scottish culture. Superb!
Review
4 Stars
A strange yet intriguing book
The Booking (Black Labyrinth) - Ramsey Campbell

An unusual yet highly addictive read. Kiefer looking for a job is successful when he finds employment at "Books for Life" with its peculiar and odd curator. This is an old fashioned bookshop and his job is to categorize the collection for the internet and readers in a modern world. A short yet intense novella which has a distinct eerie uncomfortable feel from the moment Kiefer enters the premises. Why is it that when books are sold a copy is still present? There is a great confusion as to what is reality and what is not reality, strange visions and encounters, and the surprise ending when revealed is a delight. To fully appreciate all the intricacies and hidden meanings within The Booking I plan to visit and stroll through the haunted corridors of this quaint little book shop in the near future.

Review
4 Stars
A tough but essential read
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi, Abraham Verghese

The story of neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi and how he comes to terms with the news that he has terminal lung cancer. How can a young life so full of promise, a young man blessed with intellect and warmness be so cruelly cut short. The story is concluded by his wife Lucy and though the writing is sad and the ending inevitable the way and manner that the author faces his nemesis makes for poignant, thoughtful yet compulsive reading.

Review
4 Stars
Great collection but why the long story?
Blue World - Robert R. McCammon
The only real problem I have with this enjoyable collection is the last story....Blue World. It is in fact more of a novella and in that respect is not a comfortable companion with the preceding 12 short stories, it upsets the complete rhythm of those that have gone before and whilst an interesting tale in its own way is totally out of context. It is the story of a priest John Lancaster who finds himself attracted to blue movie phenomenon Debra Rocks and the resulting moral dilemma that ensues. At some 200 pages long this one story although interesting and amusing soon runs out of ideas after the initial premise of "will he or won't he" loses its appeal. In contrast to this "Night Calls the Green Falcon" is a work of pure magic! Creighton Flint is an old retired movie star and in his prime the afternoon movie and in particular the black and white weekly adventure series (you know where the hero is attempting to rescue a beautiful damsel in distress who has been tied to the railway line with an express train fast approaching...the action stopped at an impossible moment/cliff-hanger and a whole week had to be waited until hopefully our hero rescues said damsel) An old and somewhat weary Green Falcon is called into service again when his neighbour and friend is murdered. The Green Falcon must don his outfit and go in search of The Fliptop Killer. The real genius of this story is the way Robert McCammon divides the action into chapters with nail biting dastardly misadventure concluding each akin to the old black and white movies of days gone by...."Hey, amigo the man said, and flame shot from the barrel of the small pistol he'd just drawn" (my goodness has our hero been shot!)....now read on to start of next chapter..."The Hispanic man lit his cigarette with the flame"....phew that was close! "Yellowjacket Summer" is not a story to read if you possess a bee phobia. The author uses both the desert heat and fear of yellowjacket bees to great effect in this "stinger" of a story. "Nightcrawlers" a tale of murder and intrigue that happens in Cheryl's diner and the mystery that unfolds with the arrival of a Vietnam veteran called Price. Nightmares, mental awareness, and the fear of the unknown are issues hidden within. "He'll come knocking at your door" A very clever tale in which Dan Burgess lives the ideal life with a beautiful wife and daughter. This family wants for nothing but when Dan is summoned to an urgent Halloween meeting with some town locals he learns that there is no such thing as a free ride. A wonderful story with spooky folk lore overtones. Virgil Sykes and his odd family move into their newly painted "The Red House" What is the significance of the colour red? and why does it so upset Bobby Deaken? How is Sykes able to work faster and smarter than all his colleagues....all will be revealed in this quirky, bubbly fun tale. A great collection which would have been even better if "Blue World" the final story had either been replaced or somewhat edited.
Review
4 Stars
A wonderful complex, charismatic, and sad detective
A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly

This is the 14th book in the Charlie Parker series and possibly not the strongest best remembered. A strange community "The Cut" are an enclosed society within Plassey County in West Virginia. They resist all help and do not welcome interference from an outside world, preferring to administer their own archaic form of justice by extortion, bullying and annihilation of perceived enemies, and those who would seek to undermine their way of life. Into this complex and dangerous situation enters our hero Charlie Parker tasked with locating a vanished girl and unmasking the legend of The Dead King. As ever he is accompanied by his able assistants Angel and Louis always with potential to call for assistance from the "Fulci" brothers if life becomes tough!

 

It is however the tormented and restless soul of Parker that we the reader love. This flawed hero not only laments and worships the loss of his family but also communicates with his dead daughter Jennifer always hoping to find some peace and perhaps soon to be with her on the other side. It is this dark aspect to Connolly's novels that make his books so readable, the sadness that is a permanent companion to a still great detective...."But it was his gaze that was most altered. If it were true what they said about the eyes being the windows to the soul, then Parker's soul burned with a new fire. His eyes held a calm conviction that Dave had not seen in them before. This was a fundamentally changed man, one who had come back strengthened, not weakened, by what he had endured, but who was also both less and more than he once had been.

 

In a long running series there will naturally be preferential novels more liked and suited to different readers. Whilst no John Connolly story is anything less than excellent my own personal favourites are A Song of Shadow, The Wrath of Angels and Every Dead Thing (where it all began) JC is a truly unique talent, and having made his acquaintance at a book gathering in Bath UK last year, a most genuine and gracious man always showing great respect and reverence to his adoring public!

Review
1 Stars
Woeful
Children of the Dark - Jonathan Janz
What an utter disappointment this horror story has proved to be! The start was lively and exciting and I had great hopes that this coming of age saga with 15 year old Will Burgess would have lots of memorable moments as our young hero and his friends coped with the sometimes traumatic experience of maturing from children to adults. Until we got to some 40% in it was all shaping up nicely, the usual teenage angst mixed with troublesome bullies and pretty "first love" girlfriends"........and then it all went wrong.... A rampaging criminal "The Moonlight Killer" had escaped and was terrorizing the locals, green eyed monsters with long pale arms (I kid you not!) were spotted and gradually commenced eating the good citizens and to add to the misery hurricane force weather was forecast! The second half of this sorry story disintegrated into a pathetic picture of green eyed monsters devouring anyone and anything that stood in their way......yawn...yawn.....................zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz The only reason I felt the story worthy of 1 star was the unusual and unpredictable ending. So will our charismatic hero emerge from his troubled childhood, ( and in truth there were many obstacles, no father figure and a alcoholic mother) will he keep his young 5 year old sister from turning into a midday "monster" meal and will he gain the love of Mia, the girl of his dreams. As Rhett would have said..."Frankly my dear I don't give a dam*" and you may choose to disagree dear readers but for me this story was almost as bad as "Night of the Nazi Zombies".....and that's saying something.....................
Review
3 Stars
Did not quite work for me
Wicked Stepmother - Dennis Schuetz, Axel Young, Michael P. Kube-McDowell
I have mixed feelings about Michael McDowell and yet I know that many of my friends on goodreads enjoy every word he has ever put into print. I had great trouble with the southern gothic tale "The Elementals" thought "Toplin" a work of great intrigue mystery and strangeness and yet was enthralled by "Cold Moon over Babylon" and saw it as one of the great horror stories of the last 30+ years. Wicked Stepmother is somewhat difficult to categorize and I certainly find it hard to identify with the writing style of McDowell. It is without doubt not meant to be serious but more a satirical and somewhat camp study of a Bostonian family, their social standing, and their murdering attempts to maintain that social status. It has lots of fun moments, a few little surprises but ultimately did not dazzle me in the same way that Cold Moon did.
Review
4 Stars
The violent world of PI Frank Behr
Signature Kill: A Novel (Frank Behr) - David Levien

It's probably true to say that this book reads a little like a movie or tv series and therefore no surprise to learn that the author David Levien is both a screenwriter and Director. This is the third book I have read starring PI Frank Behr ; ex cop now private eye, a real loner with a sad past, broken relations and a dead son. We now discover him in a relationship ( I use the term loosely) with Susan and a son they have together...Trevor (unusual to find anyone naming a son Trevor! and so great respect to Susan as my name is Trevor!) Frank spots a billboard, the originator is searching for her lost daughter Kendra Gibbons, and he decides to help, attracted by the large reward money on offer. This leads him into a cat and mouse game with the perpetrator as this psychopath continues to kidnap and torture, in the most horrific way, innocent young girls. Will Frank be able to bring the killer to justice and at the same time find some peace and reconciliation in his private life?

 

David Levien's books are easy to read with a very uncomplicated singular plot which probably reflects on his movie and tv background. They are not works of great literary acclaim but this is not always a bad thing as we often read for fun and escapism. For me what really dragged this book up to a 4 star rating was the completely unexpected last few chapters and an ending which although may have been out of character for Frank Behr, surely asks a lot of questions about his own mental state? To say more might disclose the plot in what proved to be once again an enjoyable excursion into the curious, complicated and often violent world of PI F Behr.

Review
5 Stars
Tim Weaver just gets better and better
Broken Heart: David Raker #7 - Joe Coen, Penguin Books LTD, Tim Weaver, John Chancer

Tim Weaver is a truly original, elegant, articulate author whose style, finesse and shear story telling ability gets better with each new book. Broken Heart is a superb example of how to draw a reader in from the first page and to maintain his interest right to the closing paragraph. It is essentially a crime novel that openly portrays the author's meticulous attention to detail, creating a multi layered plot which is never too complicated or over ambitious. David Raker, missing persons investigator, receives a telephone call from the sister of Linda Korin and the request is simple.....please find Linda!

 

For those of you who have followed the David Raker investigations in previous books  ("What Remains" book 6 is an equally outstanding story with imagery of old wooden piers and the thrill and sound of Victorian amusement arcades) you will be well aware that his novels contain many facets, multiple characters with endless twists turns and surprises. We learn much of the life of Linda Korin and her marriage to the multi talented movie producer Robert Hosterlitz. Hosterlitz had been a sad and drunken individual who kept one big secret form his beautiful wife and as Raker begins to unfold the tangled layers to discover where the truth lies, his own life will be in mortal danger. Tim Weaver's love of cinema and in particular "noir" adds an authentic old Hollywood feel to the story as it progresses relentlessly in the search to find Linda before it is too late.

 

My highest recommendation for this book and to an author who grows more confident and exciting with each new publication. I look forward immensely to the next in the series.

Review
1 Stars
Confusing and shambolic
Five Stories High: One House, Five Hauntings, Five Chilling Stories - Tade Thompson, Sarah Lotz, Nina Allan, Robert Shearman, K.J. Parker, Jonathan Oliver

I am perplexed by this story and think that the content is almost too clever for the events that they purport to represent.

 

Irongrove Lodge is a house of mystery and intrigue where five separate happenings or ghostly chilling stories unfold so says the blurb.......What actually unfolds is well nothing!! words and events happen and escalate past my eyes and mind with no particular order, sense or meaning. So frustrated did I become with the style of writing and the content that (for my own sanity) I desisted from reading, just before the midpoint having attempted to digest (and failing) two of the novellas within the five.

 

I find it even hard to explain what it was I had actually read? In the second of the two stories the narrator, a shapeshifter, ( a person or being with the ability to change their physical form at will) markets himself as in individual who, for a price,  will supply you the client with an alibi. In addition to this he "becomes" you by physically adopting your appearance and character. Centered around this unusual occupation are thoughts and observations on the narrator's wife (an artist of some repute who has deserted him) and his father, a mathematical genius and the author/originator of a calculus/mathematical solution which has greatly added to his credibility and fame (until an Indian professor disputes the theory) During these events our narrator purchases a suit of armour (don't ask me why) and finds solace and content within a small room in his flat at Irongrove Lodge....ah Irongrove Lodge....remember it was the subject of this collection of 5 novellas.

 

Having requested this book from netgalley I was excited about the possibility of reading five separate ghostly adventures around the beautifully named, the historical and stately, Irongrove Lodge. What I read was a confusing literary mess with the actual Lodge playing a secondary role to the rambling and overfed egos of so called writers masquerading as horror authors! A reader must be honest and fair in his thoughts when reviewing, especially if he received that book free in return for an honest review.  His thoughts and words must be impartial and not be influenced as the recipient of a "gratis" copy. I rarely dismiss a book at the midway point, but on this occasion the text, form and content proved much too confusing and abstract for me to continue. A great disappointment and a book I do not recommend to anyone!

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