Book Review: I am Providence by Nick Mamatas

I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas

Colleen Danzig is an aspiring writer of Lovecraftian fiction. While attending the biggest gathering for Lovecraftian literary types: The Summer Tentacular in Providence, Rhode Island, she finds the hardcore fans more than a little off-putting. When her roommate–a widely admired and equally despised writer named Panossian–is murdered and his face surgically removed, Colleen finds that she is the only one who seems to care about Panossian’s death. Deciding to start her own investigation, she delves into the underbelly of the Lovecraftian fandom, a place where racism and sexism merge with mystical thinking, and more than one convention goer seems to be searching for a book bound in human skin . . .

This is a meta-fiction, a Lovecraft book about Lovecraft folks. There are no cosmic horrors here, though, just the banal horror of truly terrible people. I do like the split narrative between the well-meaning and frustrated Colleen and the dead, decomposing, but still conscious Panossian, which did give the book a touch of Lovecraftian horror. the tone of the book is bitter and snarky, focusing on the trouble that arises when you have too many socially-backward folks in one place. Despite the occasionally sour-grapes-esque tone, Mamatas does bring forward some legitimate problems both with Lovecraft himself and with a subset of his fans (see previous: racism, sexism, etc.).

The plot of the book stumbles at times, switching viewpoints or segueing with little warning. In addition, the various secondary characters tend to be a bit one dimensional, which occasionally makes it difficult to keep these players straight.

The book is quite funny at times, but I would recommend it more for the serious Lovecraft fan, and not a casual reader.

Book Review: The Night Bird by Brian Freeman


The Night Bird by Brian Freeman

Sitting in traffic on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, a young woman has a sudden, violent mental breakdown. Tearing the flesh of her arms, torso, and face, she appears to be running from some invisible horror when she throws herself off the bridge.

And she is not the first. Detective Frost Easton is heading the investigation of similar deaths in the city, all with one common thread: Psychiatrist Dr. Francesca Stein. Dr. Stein’s controversial methods of helping highly phobic patients seem to be falling apart, unless someone is out there, targeting her former patients in a twisted attack. When Dr. Stein begins to receive taunting messages signed by “The Night Bird,” the clock is ticking for her and Easton to find the psychopath before more people die . . .

This is an enjoyable and fast-paced mystery. I greatly enjoyed the use the author made of the fragility of memory and the power of suggestion. The beginning (after the fantastic first casualty) was a bit awkward and stilted, but Freeman quickly finds his voice. Some aspects of the plot and the characters are a bit out there, but that may well be attributable to the story being set in proudly weird San Francisco.

In all, I enjoyed this book, some parts were genuinely creepy, and the requisite plot twists included several I didn’t see coming. Fans of darker mysteries will probably enjoy this novel, it’s not quite as violent or as twisted as a Jefferey Deaver book, but feels similar.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

This is the 7th book featuring Gardner’s profiler pair, Quincy and Rainie. In case it isn’t obvious, there will likely be spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the other books. Additional caveat: I have not read the previous books in the series, but I was not lost, you can definitely read this book as a standalone if you wish.

The book begins from the point of view of a young boy. Telly loves his little sister, Sharlah, and will do anything to protect her from his drug addicted, abusive parents. One night, Telly’s father goes into a drug-fueled rampage, and Telly is forced to kill him to save himself and his sister.

Fast forward eight years and Sharlah is the foster daughter of Quincy and Rainie, ex-profilers and now private sector consultants. She hasn’t seen or had any contact with her brother since the night of their parent’s deaths. Then a simple “shots fired” call turns into a murder spree, and it seems like Sharlah’s older brother may be the gunman. As Quincy and Rainie are called into the case, Sharlah is forced to face the possibility that her brother may have always been a monster.

I enjoyed this dark thriller. Even without having read the previous books, it was easy to slip into the world of the primary characters. The subject matter is dark but well written, and while the plot seems to be straightforward at first, ample twists and turns will keep you interested. What I most liked was the intelligence of the Quincy and Rainie duo. You know all those niggling little details that occur in every mystery? The ones where you stop and go “Wait, that isn’t quite right,” well, those little things occur here as well, but (rather uniquely in my opinion) those little inconsistencies are picked up on by the protagonists. rather than being used as gotcha fuel later on in the book, those random little details are actually used to further the plot. More authors should make that attempt.

Fans of Jeffery Deaver or Lisa Unger will probably like this book, and I would think that if you’ve been following series thus far, this should be a no-brainer.

An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Right Behind You will be available for purchase on January 31st, 2017.

Book Review: The Chalk Girl by Carol O’ Connell

The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell

The Chalk Girl is the tenth book in Carol O’Connell’s Kathleen Mallory series. So it should come as no surprise that this review will probably have spoilers for previous books in the series. If, like me, you haven’t read the previous books in the series, you can jump in with this book without too much trouble.

The book begins with a lovely day in Central Park, following a group of visiting school children and their teacher. An odd, red haired little girl slips in with the group, but she certainly doesn’t belong there, and there’s blood all over her shirt . . .

The girl tells police that the blood fell from the sky, that she is here in the park with her uncle, but that he turned into a tree. The mystery deepens when the body of a man is found, wrapped up like a Christmas present and hung from a tree.

Enter Detective Kathleen Mallory, former street urchin and pickpocket, foster daughter of a police inspector, and all around cold hard bitch. Mallory and her partner have been assigned to the little girl’s case, and as more bodies in trees begin to pop up in Central Park, Mallory must use her considerable detective skills to find out what connection a strange little girl has with these gruesome murders.

This is a dark, twisted mystery novel. Think Jeffery Deaver’s The Bone Collector or the books by J.K. Rowling’s alter ego: Robert Galbraith. The plot twists and turns through the back alleys of the worst of human nature. Weaving together dark family secrets, police corruption, and tortured pasts, O’Connell has provided us with a compelling story. Mallory as a character is fairly unlikeable; she’s rude, misanthropic, and more than a bit sociopathic, yet O’Connell makes you want to root for her (and can I say, I do enjoy a female antihero, they’re so rare).

So I would say that if you’ve read the Mallory books up to this point, you’ll certainly want to continue the series with this book. If you haven’t read the series, this is still a great story, and it will likely make you (like me) want to go back and start the series from book one.

A copy of this book was provided for review via Goodreads Giveaways. The Chalk Girl is currently available for purchase.

Book Review: Death Among Rubies by R.J. Koreto

Death Among Rubies RJ Koreto.jpg

Death Among Rubies by R.J. Koreto

This is the second in the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series. But don’t be too put out; this is a perfectly enjoyable book even if you haven’t read the first.

At the turn of the 20th century, Lady Frances Ffolkes (Franny to her friends) has turned every head in aristocratic English society. She is a single woman living alone, and perhaps most scandalous, an outspoken suffragist. Frances wades in where others fear to tread, bolstered by her sharp wit and fearless demeanor.

Death Among Rubies finds Frances traveling with her friends Gwen and Thomasina to Gwen’s family’s country estate for a respite from the city. The trip starts off on an ignominious foot when Thomasina finds herself threatened for her “close relationship” with Gwen. Upon arriving at the country manor, the situation deteriorates fully: Gwen’s father has been killed, stabbed to death in his own office. And what’s more, his role as unofficial ambassador for England means that his death could have international repercussions  for England itself.

It’s up to Frances, assisted by Gwen, Thomasina, and her indomitable maid, Mallow, to uncover the truth behind the murder, because other lives most certainly hang in the balance.

I really enjoyed this mystery. Lady Frances is a fun, engaging focal character, reminiscent of Lady Julia Grey or Veronica Speedwell (both excellent characters written by Deanna Raybourn). Those looking for a grand manor murder mystery will enjoy this book.

An advance ebook was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Death Among Rubies will be available for purchase on October 11th, 2016.