Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review: UNSUB

UNSUB UNSUB by Meg Gardiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner (UNSUB #1)

I was delighted to discover a new Meg Gardiner series, as I had quite enjoyed reading her Jo Becket series, all deeply psychological mysteries. UNSUB focuses on Alameda County, California, Sheriff's Detective Caitlin Hendrix, daughter of the former lead detective on the long-unsolved serial murder case of the Prophet, more than two decades before. A Narcotics detective, Caitlin is transferred to the Homicide detail at the beginning of a new series of killings mirroring the Prophet's reign of havoc.

Ms. Gardiner carries the reader to hell and back, never settling for an easy solution nor for glossy surface emotions. Indeed, nothing here is easy. Caitlin has to prove herself, as she is a homicide rookie, immersing herself in the cold cases from the Prophet's murders--cases she was first exposed to inadvertently at age nine. As her involvement intensifies, the killer targets her, just as her father, Detective Mack Hendrix, had been targeted by the Prophet. Her home life and her own life are in danger.
I won't say this is a one-sitting reading, but it is a can't-put-it-down, have-to-read-to-the-end engrossing mystery.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Pickman's Other Model

Pickman's Other Model Pickman's Other Model by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Review: Into the Thinnest of Air

Into the Thinnest of Air Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R. Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: INTO THE THINNEST AIR by Simon R. Green
(An Ishmael Jones Mystery)

Anytime I start a story which begins "Call me Ishmael. Ishmael Jones." I am over the moon because I am about to embark on a science fiction-paranormal adventure guaranteed to carry me away, in delighted absorption. Mr. Green has a magical talent, immediately suspending disbelief. I love every novel in this series. This time, Ishmael and Penny visit a really isolated inn in Cornwall, situated at the cliff's edge, site of ugly historic murders and many divergent spooky tales. As the evening continues, events transpire apparently proving the tales to be true. Ishmael and Penny persevere to the end, finding opportunities to deliver poetic justice.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: Black Chalk

Black Chalk Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BLACK CHALK by Christopher Yates

There are so many twists in this labyrinthine novel that I felt quite like a pretzel when I finished, but I also came away with a feeling of satisfaction at reading such a deep, rich, story. I can't say I liked or admired some of the characters, and even those I did empathize with had failings (don't we all), but the author's gift absorbed me into the story regardless. At the ending I kept demanding of one of the characters, "Why didn't you? Couldn't you just--?" That didn't alter my enjoyment of the novel, and would have led to some other ending (and I took a personal object lesson from it).

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Review: The House on Hayden Pond

The House on Hayden Pond The House on Hayden Pond by Jessica Monks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE HOUSE ON HAYDEN POND by Jessica Monks

An engrossing paranormal with lots of twists and a knock-out reader's hook, THE HOUSE ON HAYDEN POND is rich with emotional depth and character development, and the supernatural elements are truly terrifying. Implacable horror determined on destruction targets neighbors and family members, till one wonders, is anyone safe? Is anything sacred and exempt from terror? That which is dead is not necessarily gone, nor is it impotent. Watch and beware (and don't sleep).

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Christmas Scary!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True!

Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True! Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True! by Frank C. Chastain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of HORRORS: Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True! By Frank Chastain

An apropos title, for this set includes quite a number of "true scaries," and a collection of some of the world's worst killers.

Serial Killers: , & Murder: Scary Stories, & True Stories of the Most Terrifying Serial Killers the World has Ever Seen! (Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, ... Unsolved Mysteries, Torture Book 1)

This volume presents 5 notorious (or less so) serial killers: 3 male, 1 female, 1 whose gender as well as identity remains unknown. These are New York's Long Island Killer (or Killers), San Francisco's Zodiac Killer, The Night Strangler Richard Ramirez who murdered in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Boston Strangler (who may or may not have been Albert DeSalvo), and the beautician-turned-nurse Genese Jones, who despite a sentence totally 99 years, will be up for parole in 2018.

The author reports the cases in some detail, taking pains to point out that some of these (Long Island Killer, Zodiac Killer, Boston Strangler) have never been satisfactorily closed, so quite possibly the killers could still be at large.

The author also offers for our entertainment and edification true-life scares, some from folklore, others collected from life, including some of his own scares. Prepare for spine-tingling chills and provoked pondering. Recommended: don't read at night. I love horror even more than I love history, and have been reading horror and hauntings for the last 6 decades--and these are SCARY!!

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Review: Bad Call

Bad Call Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BAD CALL

I started this book with a sense of foreboding. Beginning with the first page (what a reader's hook!), my intuition just "knew" something was going to go very badly wrong. Some one or more of the characters would suffer, and so would I, vicariously. Some of them I distrusted from the beginning; plus I knew that the deception from the very beginning would prove disastrous, bringing on trouble, and more lies, and quite possibly betrayal. As the story continues, the suspense ratchets higher and the tension tautens. As everything seems to conspire against this disparate conglomeration, tricking and blocking their attempts at progress, true character rises to the forefront, both strong integrity and vicious cruelty. When Nature itself leaps in to confuse and destroy, and more than one of this mismatched group of four adolescents makes their own "bad call" (and making wrong or misguided decisions is a consistent theme in this novel), nothing can result but tragedy. The result for the reader: constant breathtaking suspense.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review: Where Nightmares Come From

Where Nightmares Come From Where Nightmares Come From by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM , edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson

I 've enjoyed and benefited from Crystal Lake Publishing's Writers on Writing Series, and am happy to find the brand-new volume WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM: THE ART OF STORYTELLING IN THE HORROR GENRE. In 28 articles, including some interviews, 31 authors bring their various and sundry viewpoints, and perhaps better yet, their wisdom, to a volume that I recommend to read and to keep as a reference guide. As a sometime write, I found inspiration, techniques, encouragement, a metaphorical pat on the back and "you're okay, kid" (muttered in a Bogart voice). As a lifelong reader, I enjoyed admiring my idols from afar and discovering the guidance they provide.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: Scary House

Scary House Scary House by Sean Thomas Fisher
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

SCARY HOUSE by Sean Thomas Fisher

Take the title's word for it; SCARY HOUSE Is one phenomenally frightening story. A coming of age plus adult consequences ("how do I deal with something unstoppable?"), this novel is richly layered, and could be enjoyed as a coming of age, abandoned by father, staunch friendships, meeting girls, first romance, growing to maturity, protective parent, saga. But while other individuals experience these categories of life trials and joys, not too many (I don't think) hold the adolescent dream of proving the existence of ghosts. Certainly few encounter an actively haunted house with manifestations this terrifying, nor grow to adulthood in the very real and permanent fear that the terror they battled at age 13 will return, decades later, with a horrifying agenda, an implacable destiny. This is life on the line, nitty-gritty, down to the bone, horror, and it won't stop.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Cabals of Blood: A Collection of Lovecraftian Horror

Cabals of Blood: A Collection of Lovecraftian Horror Cabals of Blood: A Collection of Lovecraftian Horror by Richard Klu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: CABALS OF BLOOD by Richard Klu

Much credit to this author's imagination. He definitely exercises it in this multiple-story collection. Subtitled "A Collection of Lovecraftian Horror," there are indeed stories that explore God's beyond, cities hidden constructed of strange angles and odd proportions. Some of the stories resonate with stories I've read by H. P. Lovecraft and authors who toil in the fields of the Lovecraft Mythos. Other stories here focus on creature horror.

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Review: Die for Me

Die for Me Die for Me by Carol Gorman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DIE FOR ME by Carol Gorman

This was a fast-paced, suspenseful, one-sitting YA read. I was engaged with the characters and the plot premise. In fact, I found it similar to a logic puzzle as I tried to deduce the identity of the killer. Yes, killer--it may be YA but there is death. Also friendship and betrayal, cruelty and egotism, and some genuinely good characters. I especially appreciated the denouement, which carried much emotional impact and provoked thought, and the conclusion.

Carol Gorman is a multiply award-winning author. I look forward to discovering more of her books.

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Review: The Black Blade: A Huckster Novel

The Black Blade: A Huckster Novel The Black Blade: A Huckster Novel by Jeff Chapman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I'm familiar with the subgenre of “Weird Western,” which I guess is a subgenre of both “Weird Fiction” and of “Western Fiction,” in this case “Western” referring to the mid- to late-19th century frontier, in the U.S. And possibly Canada and Mexico. This would be the era of Manifest Destiny, that horrid protocol invented by Western Europeans to countenance their complete takeover of the North American continent. I haven't read a lot of “Weird Western” fiction but let me tell you, Jeff Chapman may just have convinced me to drop everything and start reading this category widely.

THE BLACK BLADE is an adorable, DEE-LIGHT-FUL novel, as perhaps one of its characters might say [or maybe not]. Anyway, this reviewer says so: Jimmy and Orville are a precious duo, and now they've added Isobel on full-time, and that feisty girl is a real kickin' heroine too. Jimmy and Orville are sort of business partners; Orville, a chubby but charismatic fellow, hucksters...he cons folks out of their hard-earned money, and he is always looking for opportunity to knock. Jimmy, younger, rescued by Orville when he was lower than a frog's belly and really poorly off, is always watching out for danger, which usually finds them, then figuring out how to get them safe. In this novel, the two men, and a farm couple, are tricked by a dark magician, a “man” with true power, and Jimmy and Wilbur, the farmer, are sent out on a quest worthy of dark fantasy. They have to deal with shapeshifting animals, a mask that possesses, the dark magician and his various monstrous creations, as well as battle against their own fear, and learn to cooperate instead of compete.

Jeff Chapman's characterizations are precious. His settings are beautifully delineated, and his homespun prattle, particularly Jimmy's, is humorous yet poignant. Jimmy is fond of remembering particular proverbs and platitudes of his late grandma, herself a wise one, and his homage to her and his loyalty to his friends knows no bounds. More Jimmy and Orville, please!

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Review: Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint

Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint by Richard Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint by Richard Black

Wow! That was exciting! Very violent, very profane, very fast-paced--I read it in one quick sitting and I really enjoyed it. When drug lords' violence rips across a destroyed neighborhood, nobody much cares, including the police. But amazingly someone does care. There's a brand-new vigilante bringing justice to the low-rise neighborhood, and it's not Charles Bronson or Candyman. You won't believe what and who it is, but he is righteous!

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Review: Black Goat Blues

Black Goat Blues Black Goat Blues by Levi Black
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: BLACK GOAT BLUES by Levi Black (The Mythos War Book 2)

After all the trouble, danger, and magic in Book 1, RED RIGHT HAND, Charlie (Charlotte) might be ready to rest. But when you've been Marked by an Elder God, rest is a thing of the past. (And Charlie's never really rested since age fourteen.) After being jerked back across the universe by a certain Elder God, battling others, all the trickery, deceit, set-ups, this girl Is ready to get down and fix said Elder God's wagon. But first she has to find him, and to do so, Charlie must travel to Carcosa, to the Court of the feared and dreaded King in Yellow. The beat-downs, deception, and betrayals aren't over yet...not by any means.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Review: The Black Goat Motorcycle Club

The Black Goat Motorcycle Club The Black Goat Motorcycle Club by Jason Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This novel is so extreme, but boy is it riveting!! I usually don't choose motorcycle club-themed books (that's reading out of my comfort zone) but the title sold me. I had expected Satanism (Baphomet), but instead I got Lovecraft, the supernatural, and then--debut author Jason Murphy took two overdone horror tropes, turned them inside out and upside down and tossed them in my face, and oh did he make them rock!! Not only are there really well-done characterizations, and non-stop gore, but there are not one, not two, but four kickin' female characters (and they sure show up the guys!).

If you think your stomach can stand it, devour this novel. Jason Murphy, you're rockin'

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Review: Red Right Hand

Red Right Hand Red Right Hand by Levi Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: RED RIGHT HAND by Levi Black


Absolutely riveting from the first page, I couldn't step away. When I turned the first couple of pages, and read the identity of the one whom protagonist Charlie (Charlotte) calls "The Man in Black," I was awestruck (and no, I won't give it away). This series and this novel are pure Lovecraftian delight!

Charlie Moore is a twenty-five year old woman with the kind of physical, emotional, and psychological damage no one should have had to endure; yet she survived, not necessarily thrived, but she has become an amazingly strong person. Happens also that her maternal great-great uncle was H. P. Lovecraft, who was not only a scribe of Weird Fiction, but a prophet. Yes, the Lovecraft Cosmos is literally true, and the Great Old Ones really are out to get us. Now Charlie is tapped to be a warrior to stop their incursion; if she heeds the commands of the "Midnight Man" (she varies her appellations for him). Of course, heeding him may well be the death of Charlie, her almost-boyfriend Daniel--and the entire planet.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017



FRIGHTFALL, and OCTOBER IS LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, ended yesterday, with Halloween {Samhain}. Today is All Souls Day and the first day of NOVEMBER IS LOVECRAFT MYTHOS. I pledge to myself to read one (or more) HPL story each day from November 1 through December 31.

I am also participating in NaNoWriMo this month, my first since 2012. I'm writing BRIDGEPORT ASYLUM, which is not an exact sequel, but is related to, my 2011 NaNo novel, BRIGHTMOOR ASYLUM.

Hope to really immerse in Lovecraft Mythos reading throughout November (really my favourite month). To that end, last night I commenced RED RIGHT HAND by Levi Black, and oh my, is it rockin' the Mythos!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Slithers

Slithers Slithers by W.W. Mortensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SLITHERS by W. W. Mortensen

Oh my oh my oh my, I loved this perfect novel. I love a book carrying my imagination into wider realms, and this is exactly what the author has done here. Mr. Mortensen takes the "what if's" common to us all, and for 9 characters, spins out their probabilities. If you've ever been in a "close call, a "near miss," or pondered "There but for the grace of God go I," read SLITHERS. If "What If?" has ever occurred to your mind, read SLITHERS. Curious about "the road not traveled"? Read SLITHERS. I think you owe it to yourself. I can definitely see rereading SLITHERS again and again; and I am off to read this exceptional author's debut novel, EIGHT.

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Review: Monochromes: And Other Stories

Monochromes: And Other Stories Monochromes: And Other Stories by Matt Bechtel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I found Matt Bechtel through his story in the New England Horror Writers anthology WICKED HAUNTS. Right then I knew I was on to something. His story collection, MONOCHROMES AND OTHER STORIES, transported me to I can't count how many dimensions and probabilities. In company with authors Paul F. Olson and Tim Meyer (also New England scribes), Matt Bechtel takes my imagination by its clammy little hand and takes it on vacation to exotic possibilities. Each story is an adventure, into the characters but also inside us. When each story is excellent, it's not easy to pick "favorites," but there were several which especially impacted me:

"The Beginning of the End" turned me inside out and upside down and round about. It's about the length of a flash piece, with atomic impact.
"Last Man Standing": a longer story, with an emotional denouement and an ending I never expected. This one woke me during the night for further pondering.

"A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings,"
"Restore Factory Settings,"
"Cozzy's Question."

Each of these three stories made me proud, inspired, and hopeful, touching my heart in positive ways.

Mr. Bechtel is also gifted at delivering the-ending-you-never-saw-coming. Note "Last Man Standing," "This Story Approved by the American Dental Association," "A Man Walks Into A Bar." But don't rely on my opinions; go read this collection for yourself.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Review: Arachnosaur

Arachnosaur Arachnosaur by Richard Jeffries
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ARACHNOSAUR by Richard Jeffries

I totally loved this suspenseful, adventure-rich, horror-thriller, and this is fantastic praise from a lifelong Arachnophobe! This novel has everything for the discerning reader seeking a heart-pounding ploy, implacable horror, lots of scares, and well-delineated character!

Lest you expect yet another terrorism battled by sterling and stalwart Americans, 2-dimensional good-guys vs. Evil, please do think again! This story has Nature vs. Humanity, Apocalypse potential, death, Gore, good guys, really evil guys--and fully-fleshed characters I really hope return {well, not the bad guys}. The author is a writer of excellence, and he knows his stuff. I so hope ARACHNOSAUR will be the first of many more novels.

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