Wednesday, May 15, 2013

5-star review for Blood Flats

Short and sweet, but I appreciate the reader feedback:

"This book puts you in his shoes. Hes running for his life & your yelling at the book to tell him its goin to be ok..Every minute is the edge of your seat intense."

My thanks go out to the reader who wrote the review, and all of you who have read Blood Flats.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What I'm reading: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I just finished reading Gillian Flynn's second novel, Dark Places

Set in rural Kansas, this is the story about a highly dysfunctional thirtysomething woman, Libby Day, who embarks on a personal investigation of the long-ago murder of her mother and two sisters. 

The murders occurred in 1985, when Libby was only seven years old. The story bounces back and forth between the mid-1980s and the present day (around 2009 in the book). Early in the story, we learn that Libby's brother Ben was charged with the murders in 1985. But there are questions about his actual guilt, for there are several other suspects: An estranged, substance-abusing father, a devil-worshiping local teen, and an angry adult man who had a strong motivation for doing the Day family harm: The then 15-year-old Ben had been accused of molesting his 10-year-old daughter. 

Oh yes, and it was Libby's testimony (as a seven-year-old child) that led to Ben's conviction. She now wonders if her testimony was accurate--or if prosecutors and investigators "coached" her. Libby isn't sure. While she has reason to doubt Ben's guilt, he is far from an angel. 

This is a dark story, as the title implies. I wouldn't describe Dark Places as "horror" exactly, but it is more disturbing than the average Michael Connelly or Harlan Coben novel. Some of the violence is intense. Moreover, there are scenes of personal depravity and animal mutilation (the devil worship thing) that are not for the faint of heart. 

Dark Places is a highly entertaining book. I cannot say that it is an uplifting book--even though the story does not end on an entirely depressing note. The story does have a message about redemption, moving past negative childhood experiences, and dealing with grief and remorse.

Dark Places is filled with plenty of twists and turns that should satisfy any mystery fan. The characters are deep and multifaceted, just like real people. There are no cardboard cutout villains or cliched heroes. Everyone in this book is a living, breathing person. Or at least that is what you will believe.

As much as I liked Dark Places, it was not perfect, if you want to get technical about it. The final resolution of the book's central question does require a certain suspension of disbelief. 

That being said, Dark Places is a nerve-jangling page-turner, a book that will remain with you for a while. Male readers who think that female novelists only write "chick lit" will be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Categories of horror fiction

A video primer from my YouTube channel.

To read the first seven chapters of Eleven Miles of Night, click here. Follow the link at the bottom of the page.