Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: Defiant Souls

Defiant Souls Defiant Souls by Kathleen Chadwick
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: DEFIANT SOULS by Kathleen Chadwick

"The Devil walks to and fro throughout the Earth." In this novel, that's exactly what he does. Walks, hitchhikes, builds a desert ghost town/mirage, and summons followers. You see, "the Devil came down to Southern Utah, looking for a soul to steal." {Okay, I changed the wording a little...} Stealing souls, calling out followers, interfering in a classified military/government complex hex--er, compound, and confiscating the project's most important Secret (and ultimate weapon). But hey, he's Lucifer; who's gonna stop him?? And that, as the late Paul Harvey orated, is The Rest of The Story...

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Review: Operation Cairo

Operation Cairo Operation Cairo by Lisa Klink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In serial format (shades of Charles Dickens), OPERATION CAIRO leaps head-first into the very high-ticket black market of artifact smuggling. From the lowly locals paid a pittance to dig for artifacts in the desert (in this case, in Egypt) through the "fences," on to smugglers who ship concealed artifacts within legal cargo, eventually to high-end art galleries whose clientele collectors are greedy to increase their collection, and careless as to provenance, cost, or legality.

Language expert, FBI Intelligence Division Agent, Georgetown-educated Cairo native Layla al-Deeb synchronistically becomes a part of a new sting to break this black market scheme, which has been twisted to fund terrorists. The downtrodden child of the most disrespected area of Cairo now is undercover infiltrating the very top society echelons in her native metropolis, among greedy, uncaring, fabulously wealthy strangers. Layla is a stranger in her own land, becoming a stranger to herself. A rapid-paced read, OPERATION CAIRO sets its protagonists as a pigeon among cats, and her high intellect and gift for languages must translate into a chameleonic ability to pass as a scion of High Society.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: Primogen: Origin of Monsters

Primogen: Origin of Monsters Primogen: Origin of Monsters by Ramsey Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The first word for this anthology is WOW!! Then, AWESOME!! Editor Donelle Pardee Whiting chose an absolutely stellar cast and truly superb stories. From the breathtaking first story, right through the last, I marveled, I boggled, I feared, and surely I didn't breathe. This is a truly outstanding anthology.

If you're really courageous, lock the doors, turn off the lights, read at night. If these stories don't raise goosebumps, stand hair on end {reading turned me into a twin of the Bride of Frankenstein....and speaking of twins....}, if this collection doesn't turn your hair white and leave you cowering in your Panic Room...well, you're braver than me.

One last note: thanks to the continuing generosity of Stitched Smile Publications, I was enormously privileged to read this anthology, in advance. But--on release date, I purchased a copy. That's how highly I value PRIMOGEN.

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Review: The Highwayman

The Highwayman The Highwayman by Matt Manochio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE HIGHWAYMAN by Matt Manochio

It's not uncommon for me to get involved in a book; that's part of my role and gift as reader. To become involved as deeply as happened with THE HIGHWAYMAN, is rare. I rode an emotional roller coaster with this novel. Part of that is the sensitive subject matter. Part is the author's courage in putting out there some really horrible individuals. Part is the plot itself; I'm sure readers will divide on who is ethically right and who is not. Then there was the denouement and climax, which left me astonished, astounded, and yes, speechless. I continued pondering that, and was further awestruck by the ending. Oh my, oh my, oh my.

This novel is very topical, very present. Dealing with the criminal justice system, with crimes often unreported or unpunished, with authority and its abuse (by individuals, not just "the system.") Unfortunately for our society, the story also rings all together too realistic. I came away with a strong drive "to speak Truth to power," as the author very much does here, and I also concluded with awe at Mr. Manocchio' s gifted output. My applause!

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Waking the Ancients

Waking the Ancients Waking the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WAKING THE ANCIENTS by Catherine Cavendish

Some dark magic never dies. Some historical figures should not be returned to life {Idi Amin, Stalin, Pol Pot. Cleopatra and her sister}.

Paula and Phil Bancroft have just signed a three-year tenancy on a lovely mansion in the extraordinarily historied and cultured city of Vienna, Austria. Phil holds a significant post at the UN, and Paula is an artist and former history teacher. Unfortunately she is also psychically vulnerable, and their lovely new home is possessed by an evil magician/ archaeologist who will literally stop at nothing and no one to bring Cleopatra back to life (or some semblance of life).

Catherine Cavendish can unfailingly be counted on to scare readers senseless as simultaneously we find ourselves totally engrossed with her realistic characters. This haunting tale is second in the new WRATH OF THE ANCIENTS Trilogy.

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Review: Amber Fang: Revenge

Amber Fang: Revenge Amber Fang: Revenge by Arthur Slade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: AMBER FANG 3 by Arthur Slade

Slide into a...comfortable vampire cozy thriller, with a vampire protagonist-heroine who reads (and delivers easier deaths to bad guys who read). Who can resist Ninja Librarians, dedicated to preserving Human knowledge and culture {shades of The Universal Library}? If you like your vampires not sparkly but snarky, your thrillers highly adventurous but leavened with quirky humor, and your characters likable, check out this third entry in the Amber Fang Series. (Caution: includes breathtaking moments!)

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Review: Days of Night

Days of Night Days of Night by Jonathan Stone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: DAYS OF NIGHT by Jonathan Stone

DAYS OF NIGHT is a Hemingway-esque thriller set on the planet's final frontier, Antarctica. Joseph Heller, detective of long experience, is appointed by the US Marshals' office to investigate an unsolved (possibly unsolvable) cold case murder at McMurdo Station. Heller, for quite serious reasons of his own, welcomes the opportunity. However, the case is really difficult and clearly the killer is highly cunning. His progress is nearly nonexistent-and then the unthinkable happens: McMurdo Station loses all contact--with anywhere. Apparently the worst has come to pass, and the end of the world has manifested. Even other Antarctic stations are unreachable...and it's "winter-over," the season of unending night, when travel is impassable. It's just 157 lonely scientists, technicians, administrators, and maintenance personnel, isolated, in the way below freezing pitch dark Antarctic night, likely the last humans on Earth. 157..156...

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: Looking Glass

Looking Glass Looking Glass by Andrew Mayne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: LOOKING GLASS by Andrew Mayne [The Naturalist, Book 2]

LOOKING GLASS is the eagerly-awaited second novel/scientific thriller/criminal mystery in author/illusionist Andrew Mayne' s super fantastic THE NATURALIST Series. Computational biologist, mathematical and programming genius, Dr. Theo Cray (formerly Professor, University of Texas-Austin), is without a doubt my favourite protagonist. (I can only think of one other protagonist and one highly important secondary character I admire as much, and both of those are found in John Connolly's Charlie Parker series.) Theo is an exceptional individual, a character who is so self-analytical but almost constantly doubting his human traits, an intellectual genius, a scientist with incomparable value to science, academia, law enforcement, business and industry, government, because he is a savant at spotting patterns. What he doesn't see on his own recognizance, he codes programs to find. He could be so valuable, but bureaucracy and egotism rule, so instead of being applauded, his own academia jettisoned him, certain law enforcement agencies basically despise him, and now he is employed by a subcontractor working on Defense Intelligence Agency research. But you can't keep a facile brain muzzled, and quickly Theo finds himself drawn into a horrid ongoing killing series spanning decades, involving children, international politics, conspiracy and cover-ups--and black magic. I kid you not. Theo nearly didn't survive his first encounter in The Naturalist; he's likely not to survive this either.

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: My Father Didn't Kill Himself

My Father Didn't Kill Himself My Father Didn't Kill Himself by Russell Nohelty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MY FATHER DIDN'T KILL HIMSELF by Russell Nohelty

Honest emotional vulnerability: that's my appreciation of this novel. A year or so ago, I read a journalist's description of a certain celebrity clan as open about their emotional vulnerability, what I would term "transparency." I can't speak to that quality in regard to celebrities, but it's definitely what we have here. A high school sophomore with a drive to achieve Harvard's Early Admission, Delilah is the offspring of devoted, caring parents. Popular best friend Alex is the child of moneyed, emotionally distant, physically absent, parents. Together they balance and ensure each other's stability and passions, Delilah for achievement and education, Alex for her gymnastics excellence. Their English teacher traditionally assigns the writing of a term-long journal, and Delilah decides to post hers online as a blog, dragging Alex into that too.

Life proceeds swimmingly until one morning, Delilah's mom discovers her dad, deceased, in his study. It isn't natural causes, so it must be suicide--right? Certainly the local police think so. But devoted daughter Delilah won't acquiesce. In no way is that the father she knew. Grief leads to depression to anger to hatred of the whole world and a burning determination to solve the case--I.e., to prove it's murder.

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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Review: Tip of the Iceberg

Tip of the Iceberg Tip of the Iceberg by Ash Hartwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: TIP OF THE ICEBERG by Ash Hartwell

Now we know WHY Titanic collided with the iceberg! Seriously, horror doesn't come much more implacable than this. Given the nature of a closed environment, disaster-natural or man-made, serial killer or plague, any type of danger is inescapable. Neither good fortune or intelligence and cunning will suffice.

Although I appreciated the author's handling of the horror (and this is a horror novel), even more do I applaud his treatment of Edwardian society and culture, both British and American. Mr. Hartwell rings chords on the class system like ringing a bell, whose echoes and repercussions never fade.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

CRIES FROM THE STATIC by Darren Speegle_Tour and Review

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Cries From the Static, Synopsis
Print Length: 240 pages
Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
Publication Date: January 31, 2018
This collection of stories winds through the twisting streets of the unconscious mind with the grace and power of an experienced traveler. The exotic sensations of lands beyond dreamscapes and nightmares mingle with the harsh truths of reality in tales unbound by borders or convention. Speegle's rich, poetic language breathes life into visions that are by turn sensual, macabre, lyrical, and haunting. From the decadence of ancient Rome to the hedonistic European party scene of the modern day, from life to death and back again, these cries illuminate the supernatural lurking one step beyond and give voice to the silent truths of the heart.


Darren Speegle is the author of six books, including his recently released debut novel The Third Twin (Crystal Lake Publishing). His second novel, Artifacts, is due in 2018, while a third, The World Is My Oyster, has recently been completed. The latest of his five short story collections, A Haunting in Germany and Other Stories, was released in 2016 by PS Publishing.

His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues, including Subterranean, Cemetery Dance, Clarkesworld, Postscripts, ChiZine, Crimewave, The Third Alternative (now Black Static), Fantasy, Dark Discoveries, and Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy.

He has recently become interested in editing, and his human-evolution-themed anthology Adam's Ladder (co-edited with Michael Bailey) will be a late 2017 Dark Regions Press title. A widely traveled American, Darren often sets his stories in exotic or interesting places where he has lived (Germany, Alaska, Southeast Asia) or otherwise explored (broader Europe). Between gigs as a federal contractor in the Middle East, Darren resides in Thailand. When not writing, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

Praise for Darren Speegle

"Speegle's stories are impressively literate, intelligent and highly imaginative." --Bookgasm

"You don't just read about the places, you experience them, the people, and the entities that inhabit them. Darren Speegle has the ability to capture your soul, and slowly release it back to you, with merely a few scars. It's more than worth the read, it's worth the euphoria your mind senses when you've turned the last page."--Midwest Book Review

..".one of the most intriguing voices active in genre fiction."--Cemetery Dance

"Smart. Imaginative. Literate. Original. All of Darren Speegle's fiction shares these characteristics. Add in intriguing and complex for the occult mystery of The Third Twin. Above all the novel is a highly compelling and entertaining read. It has my highest recommendation."--Gene O'Neill, Lethal Birds, The Cal Wild Chronicles

"Speegle's very accessible voice takes you gently by the hand--and then pulls you into shadows that are subtle and deadly but studded with stars."--Michael Marshall Smith

"Creepy and atmospheric, Darren Speegle's The Third Twin is a winding, lushly written nightmare that will linger with you. Yes, you."--Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock

"Darren Speegle's delicious evocation of landscape delivers the reader, quite seamlessly, from places of precisely-evoked geography into landscapes of haunting spiritual menace..."--Graham Joyce

Purchase Links

Want to Feature?
Professional bloggers or media who would like to review Cries From the Static, or are interested in featuring or interviewing Darren Speegle, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Cries from the Static by Darren Speegle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CRIES FROM THE STATIC by Darren Speegle

I am frequently concerned about human devolution, of which one important aspect is as authors for the past few decades have termed "dumbing down": less education, less attempts at achieving and maintaining high intellect, and as 19th century America experienced, anti-intellectualism (see historian Richard Hofstadter). But even in the midst of a declining civilization, I find hope, I find high intellect, I find literary excellence--might I say, I find literary genius.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Darren Speegle, an under-extolled intellect of highest quality, nay of brilliance. CRIES FROM THE STATIC, his new collection, I shall return to again and again throughout eternity, revelling in its sheer ineffability (while simultaneously searching out his every other work, and witnessing my intellect and imagination expand).

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Review: Bad Man

Bad Man Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BAD MAN by Dathan Auerbach

An engrossing horror novel which seems to start out carefully, but almost immediately segues into flat-out horror, from then on BAD MAN is non-stop horror, tragedy, grief, suspense, terror. There are no "normal" folks in this story (except perhaps Clint, Ben and Eric's father, store cashier Chelsea and a neighbor, James) but I think these are present more as a reflective backdrop in which we watch the dysfunctional, the villainous, the evil, and the barely-human abusers.

This novel is rife with the constant churning ups and downs which must be common in all cases of abducted or missing children, or runaways, when the child has not been located, either alive and recoverable, or deceased: the long durations without news, the mistaken or willfully intentionally false sightings, the unending grief, the fraying of family connections, the awareness that the loved ones left behind no longer hold a connection with "normals" (read: the unbereaved). But throughout the horror is unrelinquished and unmitigated. Throughout is the Shadow of the Store, in which or from which a joyful three-year-old boy "disappeared." Throughout is the oppressive influence and personality of Store manager Bill Palmer. There is something wrong in this quiet, almost backwater, North Florida town. There is something wrong at the Store. There is a lot wrong in the protagonist. In the end, who or what is the responsible, the culpable party--and why?

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Review: Creep

Creep Creep by R.M. Greenaway
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CREEP by R. C. Greenaway
(B. C. BLUES #3)

CREEP is an exciting wild ride of a police procedural thriller, third in R. C. Greenaway's B. C. BLUES series, about RCMP officers in British Columbia, Canada. Deeply characterized, this mystery leaves the reader pondering exactly what is reality: what is the line between mental illness and the paranormal, and at what point does a seemingly "normal" individual completely lose the concept of right vs. wrong? I pondered also why, in this era of modern medical research and widespread education, mental illness can still be so readily overlooked or ignored, to tragic consequences.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Review: The Silent Girls

The Silent Girls The Silent Girls by Ann Troup
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE SI LENT GIRLS by Ann Troup

This engrossing mystery (along with a mystery of the same title I had just read, by Dylan Young) reminds me exactly what I love about "psychological horror " Ms. Troup masterfully sets a stage, then populates it with a series of then-and-now, interconnected plots and characters. Leading with a shocking reader's hook, the novel becomes, in a sense, a validation of that supremely wise quote of George Santayana: "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it." In the square at Winfield, those who remember keep silent, and the next generation remains in the dark. Yet even secrets fifty years old or older refuse to forever stay buried. Sometimes there results poetic justice, sometimes vengeance, sometimes evil rejoices.

THE SILENT GIRLS is definitely a stay-up-to-all-hours read.

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Review: The Death Run

The Death Run The Death Run by Destiny Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DEATH RUN by Destiny Hawkins

This short story (which I think would be an exciting novel) left me speechless. At every twist (and there were many) author Destiny Hawkins managed something new and different, something I couldn't have expected. She also juggled several character points-of-view and really brought us inside their heads (in a couple of cases, where I really didn't want to go), eliciting our empathy (and our stricken "oh no!"). Set in a Dystopian construct that literally made me shudder, a situation in which death is the most hopeful outcome, operated by individuals whose sociopathy and hubris are far off the charts. I read this in literally one sitting, it was so rocket-speed paced. I still want to know, "WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?"

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: The Silent Girls

The Silent Girls The Silent Girls by Dylan Young
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE SILENT GIRLS by Dylan Young

I don't think I've ever met a British police procedural I didn't love. THE SILENT GIRLS is certainly no exception. Fast-paced and suspenseful, this mystery is also character-driven, including but not limited to, the female protagonist, Detective Sergeant Anna Gwynne, and the villain-killer adopting the appellation "The Woodsman." The novel also expertly sounds themes of criminal justice, including railroading of suspects in order to close a case, possible corruption in law enforcement, and the dangers of closed-mindedness (in which the truth cannot be discovered because one believes the truth is already known).

THE SILENT GIRLS is engrossing, and I anticipate reading more from this author.

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Review: The Shunned House

The Shunned House The Shunned House by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Review: The Naturalist

The Naturalist The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE NATURALIST by Andrew Mayne

Professor Theo Cray is champion! I loved this book, and I can't wait for the next. Professor of bioinformatics at the University of Texas-Austin (Ph.D. MIT), Theo is a genius in systems and in computer programming, and the usual feckless absent-minded scientist, lacking consummate social skills. In Montana studying ecosystems, he is distraught to learn a former student has been killed in a forest, seemingly in a bear attack. Then Theo is accused; soon he's using the computer program he designed to map missing person cases in the area. He's on the track of a stone killer who will stop at nothing; and nobody in law enforcement will believe Theo, until it's too late.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Review: Broken Shells

Broken Shells Broken Shells by Michael Patrick Hicks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BROKEN SHELLS by Michael Patrick Hicks

I was totally enraptured by the author's earlier novel MASS HYSTERIA, and found his newest, BROKEN SHELLS, the very definition of a page-turner. The book flew by so fast I was amazed to find myself at the end {and oh, such an end!} From the introductory page I thought I would probably be reading either a serial killer plot, or possibly (with its reference to "buried secrets") about an antagonist with ties to organized crime. Oh no, no, no. Mr. Hicks takes a legend common to several indigenous North American tribes, then TWISTS it--oh, does he twist it!-to deliver a horror that's truly implacable, and a generational legacy that prides itself--and closes eyes to the decades of blood on its hands. Like Nazi concentration camp guards and staff who "only followed orders," this family's males are sworn to "protect" the world from what inhabits the underground caverns. {Yeah, right.}

If it's an incredibly riveting extreme creature horror that effectively discerns and exposes certain contemporary ingrained societal blasphemies, look right here. Michael Patrick Hicks delivers right-between-the-eyes terror, and I love it.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Review: Mudcat

Mudcat Mudcat by John Quick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MUDCAT by John Quick

MUDCAT is one superlative horror novel! Everything I look for in creature horror and more! The prologue blew me out of the water {intentional analogy!} with a scene of extreme horror I could never have imagined, then rocketed right on with one intensity after another! Implacable horror--evolution gone to extremes, with interspersed subtle suggestions that the evolutionary mutations weren't Nature, but likely human-designed, or at least nudged. All this--a creature nigh unstoppable--and what's the prime motivator in every biological organism? Hunger! An organism this size gets extremely hungry, extremely frequently. When you factor in that this creature is not blindly biological, but has a functioning intelligence--nothing can stop it. All this, and CHARACTER EVOLUTION! I absolutely adore MUDCAT!

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: The Unknown Devil: A C.T. Ferguson Private Investigator Mystery

The Unknown Devil: A C.T. Ferguson Private Investigator Mystery The Unknown Devil: A C.T. Ferguson Private Investigator Mystery by Tom Fowler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE UNKNOWN DEVIL by Tom Fowler
(A CT Ferguson Private Investigator Mystery Book 2)

THE UNKNOWN DEVIL is a delightfully intriguing and very fast-paced thriller-mystery starring a remarkably likable protagonist {that's become a rarity} who is far beyond my usual sphere, but is eminently empathetic nonetheless. CT Ferguson is an expert computer hacker and coder, university graduate, wealthy enough not to need to work, son of wealthy philanthropic parents. He became a PI after some years in Hong Kong, his empathetic traits and desire to help others as strong as ever. Here he leaps in to rescue another coder genius, who exemplifies feckless victim perfectly. Ransomware, the Baltimore Mafia contingent, and a Mob loose cannon with anger issues and sociopathy also get mixed in, to detrimental results. But our intrepid PI protagonist continues to carry the day and simultaneously endear himself.

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