Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Readers are liking OUR HOUSE

A young couple, currently residing in an apartment, buys a house in the suburbs. Their first home purchase, the American dream.

But the previous owner of the house retains an obsession with the home. The house has a dark secret.

This is the premise of OUR HOUSE. There are no supernatural elements in this novel. No inhuman monsters. There are no Islamic terrorists. 

OUR HOUSE is, rather, a thriller novel about the evils that lie buried in normal surroundings—spawned by bad decisions, and ordinary human emotions gone awry.

I had written this novel a few years ago, and done little to promote it at the time. I recently ran some promotions on the book, and as a result, it is found its way onto thousands of Kindles.

The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with a few exceptions. 

I would be the first to admit that OUR HOUSE is a quirky novel, somewhat difficult to classify. The villains are not what you would usually find in a thriller. The antagonistic team consists of a middle-aged woman with potentially homicidal tendencies, and her two young adult children, who are equally warped.

The novel is, interestingly enough, based on a true story that was told to me shortly before I began the book. 

There are, of course, lots of embellishments in the novel that finally arose from the real-life story. But aren’t there always? 

A young family. A dream house with a psychotic ex-owner and a horrible secret. A claustrophobic suburban thriller that will keep you guessing!

Chapter 18 Excerpt: "A visitor in the night":

Jennifer awoke to the sound of the doorbell. She had been in the middle of a deep sleep; and the bell rang several times before she fully grasped its significance. She sat up in bed, a sudden rush of adrenaline banishing her sleepiness. She looked at the clock beside the bed: 2:49 a.m.

She didn't turn on any additional lights, not even one of the lights in the bedroom. She wanted to have the element of surprise on her side. Sliding into the slippers she kept beside the bed, she steeled herself for the confrontation that was likely coming. Then she grabbed her robe from one of the bedposts.

Maybe you shouldn't go downstairs, she thought. It might be better to call the Mydale Police Department again. Let them handle it.

Ding-dong! Ding-dong! Ding-dong! The ringing was becoming more persistent now.

No. It was now clear that the cat had been no random sick prank. The person on the front porch was someone she knew--and the person could only be either Jim Lindsay or Deborah Vennekamp. Whichever one it was, her tormentor was trying to unnerve her.

Before going downstairs, she stopped by Connor's room. (There was no hurry--the person at the front door didn't seem to be going away.) Her son shifted in his bedclothes and rolled over. Luckily, Connor was a sound sleeper. She closed the door of his bedroom. Hopefully, he would sleep through whatever was about to happen.

She walked carefully down the stairs. An indistinct flash of movement appeared in one of the windows on the right side of the front door. By the time she reached the first-floor foyer, the ringing had stopped.

Turning the doorknob with one hand, and releasing the deadbolt lock with the other, she had second thoughts: It might be a serial killer. It might be a rapist.

It wasn't a serial killer or a rapist. It was either Deborah or Jim, and either one of those two would quickly retreat if resolutely confronted.

Jennifer flung the door open. Whoever had rung the doorbell had run away--but Jennifer suspected that he or she had not run far. Her first instinct was to look immediately to her right and left. There were shrubs in both directions, but they were insufficient cover for a full grown adult of either sex. And none of the shrubs showed any sign of movement.

She glanced down and noticed what had been left for her: not a dead cat this time, but words scrawled in chalk on the surface of the porch: "GET OUT!"

"Nice," she said aloud, doing her best to maintain a steady voice. The person--either Deborah or Jim--would be out there somewhere: where she could not easily see them, but still within earshot. Perhaps she could draw the perpetrator out, goad him or her into the open.

"That's really brave: You ring my doorbell and you run away. You leave dead animals and stupid messages on my porch. Well, I want you to know that I'm not afraid of you. I also want you to know that I know who you are. And unless you stop this now, you're going to be in a lot of trouble. So why don't you just stop all this?"

Silence. In the still of this early morning hour, the front yard took on an eerie appearance, even with the multiple outside floodlights. The trees and shrubs further out in the yard were impenetrable shadows. The dew glistened on the grass, where more shadows played.

"Do you hear me?" she said. Every hair on her body seemed to be standing up now, but she did not care. It was time for this to stop.

There was a rustling in one of the shrubs toward the far edge of the front yard. That area was beyond the full intensity of the floodlights, but there was enough illumination for her eyes to detect traces of movement.

"Who's there?" she called out. When the unseen intruder refused to answer, she was torn between two competing convictions. First there was the belief that she had made a mistake, confronting the intruder alone like this. That was followed by anger: This was nothing more than an elaborate charade concocted by either Deborah Vennekamp or Jim Lindsay, neither of whom intimidated her in real life.

"I have a gun," she said. But this bluff did not, she knew, sound convincing. She was backlit by the front porch lights, and both of her hands would be visible. If she truly had a gun, she would have brandished it by now.

There was more movement, and then a figure stepped out of the shadows. Jennifer squinted in the poor light, expecting to see the face of one of her two known tormentors.

What she saw instead did not resemble a person at all. She gasped, and shrank back toward the still open front doorway.

Her first association was the Minotaur of ancient Greek mythology. Two massive horns emerged from the darkness, and below them the snout of a bull, its mouth contorted in an unnatural grimace. All of this was atop a human frame, though that frame was clad in a single dark, flowing robe that obscured any indication of age or gender. The bull's head also made it difficult for her to accurately assess its height.

She now saw that this, too, was an elaborately structured illusion: It was not a Minotaur at all--but a person clad in a robe and a realistic mask.

"Who are you?" she shouted.

The bull's head swung slowly from side to side, its gaping mouth unwavering. The message was clear: The person beneath the mask was not going to be tricked into self-identification.

What followed was a pregnant moment, as Jennifer watched the person in the bull mask, and the other party presumably watched her, through eyes that were hidden beneath the mask.

Then the figure reached into the robe and withdrew a cylindrical object. Jennifer noticed that the person was wearing gloves, though her attention was focused on the object in his/her right hand.

A second later the object came hurtling toward her. The throw had come without any warning. Jennifer dodged to one side, and was aware of the sound of breaking glass and a few drops of wetness on the bare skin of her neck...

No comments:

Post a Comment