Book Review: Murder in Montague Falls

About Murder in Montague Falls

 

WHITE HOT THRILLS! PITCH BLACK DEEDS!

3 TALES OF TEENS TACKLING THEIR DARKEST RITES OF PASSAGE

Acclaimed storytellers Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, and Patrick Thomas each present an original novella brimming with enough danger, intrigue, and murder to get readers’ blood pounding and hearts racing.

In Colchamiro’s RED INK, a paperboy with an overactive imagination witnesses a brutal killing on his route—or has he taken his fantasy spy games a step too far?

In Hatton’s THE DEVIL’S DELINQUENTS, a trio of teenage misfits in pursuit of success, power, and revenge practice amateurish occult rituals… with deadly consequences.

In Thomas’s A MANY SPLENDID THING, a sultry high school teacher enrolls one of her students to get rid of her husband. But will the young man really graduate to murder?

My Thoughts

These three slick, dark, well-written novellas, by three different authors, are a nice antidote to any sentimental recollection one might have about the joys of being a teenager.

The first is a story about a troubled boy engrossed in an improbable fantasy world that becomes tangled in the mirror of an equally improbable real world. The second tells a chilling tale of three youngsters throwing themselves into Satanism.  The third draws its violent action from a desperately misplaced and dangerous affair between a teacher and a pupil.

All are based in the same town, which neatly ties the three novellas into a single volume, although the action of the three stories is unrelated, occurs in different time periods, and the town itself doesn’t feature in any significant way as a unifying “character” across the three stories. I’d have liked it if it had done – I felt that closer collaboration in this project by the three authors could have allowed more capital to be drawn from the one-town-three-stories device.

This is a side-grumble however, because actually the stories hang well together and do have a coherence that makes the reading experience an intense and unified one.  What ties them together is the deeper preoccupation about adolescence that broods through all of them.  Adolescence isn’t generally a fun time, fraught as it generally is with unmanageable yearnings, anxiety and disfiguring pimples.  These stories capture well that adolescent universe in which the possibilities of the adult world suddenly gape open, alluring, contemptible and terrifying in equal measure; in which friends are all important and one’s whole identity pivots on precarious social networks whose group imperatives can overwhelm. To shine these tensions through the prism of ‘noir’ or ‘horror” is appropriate – both are genres that tap into the residual adolescent in all of us – and the outcome is a memorable splash of darkness.”

 

ABOUT THE THREE AUTHORS

Russ Colchamiro

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking time travel/space adventure, Crossline, the SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, editor of the SF mystery anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, and co-author of the noir anthology Murder in Montague Falls, all with Crazy 8 Press.

He is now finalizing Crackle and Fire, the first in a new scifi mystery series featuring his intergalactic private eye, Angela Hardwicke, set for publication September 2020.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Camelot 13, Badass Moms, and Brave New Girls.

Russ is repped by The Zack Compnay.

For more on and Russ’s books, you can visit www.russcolchamiro.com, follow him on Twitter @AuthorDudeRuss, and ‘like’ his Facebook author page www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor.

 

Sawney Hatton

 

Sawney Hatton is an author, editor, and screenwriter. Other incarnations of Sawney have produced marketing videos, attended all-night film festivals, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). He loves a good day trip into the unknown.

To learn more about Sawney, visit his website at SawneyHatton.com

 

Patrick Thomas

Patrick Thomas writes the beloved fantasy humor series Murphy’s Lore, and  wrote the graphic novel Case of the Moon Maniac and the steampunk themed As The Gears Turn. His short stories have been featured in over fifty anthologies and more than three dozen print magazines.
A number of his books were part of the props department of the CSI television show and one was even thrown at a suspect. Fairy With A Gun was optioned by Laurence Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions. Act of Contrition, a story featuring his Soul For Hire hitman is in development for a short film by Top Men Productions.

Drop by www.patthomas.net to learn more.

 

A warm thank you to Blackthorn Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book!

Book Review: Slow Down by Lee Matthew Goldberg

How far would you go to make your dreams come true? For budding writer and filmmaker Noah Spaeth, being a Production Assistant in director Dominick Bambach’s new avant-garde film isn’t enough. Neither is watching Dominick have an affair with the lead actress, the gorgeous but troubled Nevie Wyeth. For Noah’s dream is to get both the film and Nevie in the end, whatever the cost. And this obsession may soon become a reality once Dominick’s spurned wife Isadora reveals her femme fatale nature with a seductive plot to get rid of her husband for good. Slow Down, a cross between the noir styling of James M. Cain and the dark satire of Bret Easton Ellis, is a thrilling page-turner that holds a mirror up to a media-saturated society that is constantly searching for the fastest way to get ahead, regardless of consequences.

My Thoughts

Slow Down is a fast-paced thriller written as though memoir from the perspective of protagonist and wannabe writer and film director Noah Spaeth. He’s about twenty-six looking back on events of four years prior and how he came to create his debut film Slow Down. Set in Manhattan, Slow Down depicts a privileged, entitled, pretentious and extremely decadent social milieu, mostly centred in the film industry. Debauchery and drug-taking abound in this behind-the-scenes exposé that focusses on the lengths a director will take to capture a great scene, produce a great movie.

Noah opens his tale by explaining how he came to meet the obnoxious Adonis Dominick Bambach, the original creator and director of the movie Slow Down, a movie then in genesis. Dominick is also a manufacturer of the designer drug Fast. This drug, akin to methylamphetamine, soon takes up stage centre when Noah becomes Dominick’s assistant. As he is drawn into his mentor’s world, he finds himself appalled, frustrated and challenged. He comes to loathe Dominick as much as fear him. And then he decides he is capable of creating a much better movie. Arrogant, cruel, out-of-control and almost deranged, Dominick tests Noah’s loyalty and as he does, Noah becomes more and more disillusioned. From there, the narrative descends into increasingly extreme and bizarre acts. The pace quickens in the second half of the novel, the final twist unexpected and arresting, one of those moments that make you want to start back at the beginning to figure out who was justified in doing what.

The architecture of this story is impressive. There is nothing to fault in the plotting and pacing. Written in punchy, upbeat and acerbic prose, Goldberg nails the voice of a washed-up, drugged-up young film director, a style that is self-mocking, self-contemptuous and self-justifying by turns. Stories like Slow Down are not easy to construct; Goldberg is to be commended and displays himself as a formidable literary talent.

Slow Down is ultimately a disturbing morality tale and a meditation on truth, deception and corruption.

About Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.

Website – Leematthewgoldberg.com

FB – https://www.facebook.com/leemgol

IG – https://www.instagram.com/leematthewgoldberg/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LeeMatthewG

Book Review: The Girl Who Found the Sun by Matthew S. Cox

About The Girl Who Found the Sun

It started with the insects.

The mass die-offs had been a warning unheeded. Before society realized the danger, the Earth had inexorably begun a transformation into a place where life could not survive. A small group found shelter in the Arc, an underground refuge safe from the toxins ravaging the surface.

After centuries of darkness, humanity’s second chance is running out—and Raven Wilder knows it.

Her job fixing the machinery in the Arc makes her aware of how close everything is to breaking down. When the systems fail, the last survivors of the human race will suffocate in the tunnels meant to protect them from the deadly air outside—starting with the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, in an example of history repeating itself, those in charge dismiss her concerns.

When her six-year-old begins showing signs of oxygen deprivation, Raven refuses to go quietly into oblivion.

She will break every rule to keep her daughter alive.

My Thoughts

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi offering opens in the bowels of the Arc, a failing underground community where electrical engineer Raven Wilder attempts to repair yet more decrepit wiring. It’s an essential role and it’s never ending. The Arc needs electricity to power the air scrubbers. There’s a hydroponic farm processing CO2 to help maintain oxygen levels. Everyone is told no one can go up and outside; conditions are much too toxic with flesh-eating vapours. It’s a bleak setting, yet Raven’s father told her stories of his trips outside, stories of what he saw and found. Raven is curious to know if what he said is true. Meanwhile, numbers are down in the human population who are struggling to survive and procreate. With only 183 remaining, there are concerns over inbreeding. Everyone wears rags as no one knows how to make clothes; the skill has been lost. If something doesn’t change, they are doomed. When her young daughter Tinsley suffers symptoms of hypercapnia, Raven decides to act.

As I’ve come to expect with Matthew S. Cox, the writing is clean, the narrative fast-paced, the world-building plausible and lean. He manages to make even the most mundane and tedious of tasks – fixing wiring – gripping, and he avoids the ‘telling’ trap, showing his readers the dystopian reality he has constructed and offering minimal explanations. Cox has crafted a powerful and independent protagonist in Raven appealing to all readers. I sense a touch of Alien without the hideous monster, and can’t help picturing Sigourney Weaver in the lead role.

The Girl Who Found the Sun will appeal to young adult readers and adults alike, another corker from a master storyteller.

About Matthew S. Cox

Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.

His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.

Links

Amazon link – https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Found-Sun-ebook/dp/B082H3B9T1/

Twitter: @Mscox_Fiction / https://twitter.com/mscox_fiction

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewSCoxAuthor

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/mscox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/matthewcox10420/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7712730.Matthew_S_Cox

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mscox.author/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Book Review: Auxiliary: London 2039 by Jon Richter

About Auxiliary: London 2039

London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel.

And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires. Everything except a soul.

Through this silicon jungle prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective—one of the few professions better suited to meat than machine. His latest case: a grisly murder seemingly perpetrated by the victim’s boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss wants a quick end to the case, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull.

A chip controlled by TIM.

Dremmler smells blood: the seeds of a conspiracy that could burn London to ash unless he exposes the truth. His investigation pits him against desperate criminals, scheming businesswomen, deadly automatons—and the nightmares of his own past. And when Dremmler finds himself questioning even TIM’s inscrutable motives, he’s forced to stare into the blank soul of the machine.

Auxiliary is gripping, unpredictable, and bleakly atmospheric—ideal for fans of cyberpunk classics like the Blade Runner movies, Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the Netflix original series Black Mirror.

My Thoughts

Auxiliary opens with hard-boiled detective Carl Dremmler who arrives at the seen of a death in a London flat. The body is that of Shawn Ambrose, an unemployed roboticist and AltWorld addict who became so sucked into the virtual reality AltWorld affords he forgot to eat. Ambrose had succumbed to ‘disengagement’, a condition in which the addict neglects their own body, dying of thirst, malnutrition or disease. This initial scene introduces the reader to TIM, a single interface referred to as the Time Imagination Machine, technology that covers every aspect of online experience, from shopping and gaming to opening an apartment door. TIM is an operating system that combines Google with Windows and Netflix and everything else out there, the AltWorld it offers making real life obsolete, for the likes of Ambrose. Dremmler himself is intensely critical of TIM and wary of the power it holds, and he hankers for the past, or rather, a part of his past he wishes he could undo.

When Dremmler is called to the case of a gruesome murder, he is faced with an impossible conundrum. Did the accused boyfriend Conor McCann smash his girlfriend’s face into a brick wall of their apartment, or was it his robotic arm that had somehow developed a dark will of its own? At first no one believes McCann’s claim, except Dremmler’s colleague Petrovic. The only way to discover if McCann is telling the truth is to extract the microchip implanted in his brain.

The plot thickens as Dremmler is forced to deal not only with the murder of Letitia Karlikowska, but also with the whereabouts of pretty young AWOL robot Cynthia Lu and a 3D-printed killer louse, in what at first seems like a wild goose chase. Meanwhile, Dremmler is plagued by flashbacks of his deceased daughter Natalie, and he ignores calls from his ex-wife Tessa. Slowly this subplot intertwines with the central investigation in what can only be described a literary tour de force. The ending is breathtakingly action-packed with twist after twist, leaving the reader reeling by the end.

The futuristic reality Richter has created in Auxiliary is rich and believable and immersive. The author deftly lures the reader into his story-world with considerable finesse and a healthy dollop of wit. Robots are everywhere, as housemaids, bar staff, doctors – medbots – and receptionists, dominating, through service, every aspect of everyday life. Cars have been replaced with pods. Robotics is stage centre and largely amoral, although throughout the novel there is a large question mark over TIM. This nagging sense of the possibility of robotic autonomy underpins the narrative and is the lynch pin of Auxiliary‘s noir feel. A secondary and equally prominent critique, conveyed through Dremmler’s observations – and one the author no doubt harbours of our contemporary globalised society – is the great divide of wealth and poverty manifest in Auxiliary: London 2039. The inclusion of The Farm, where maverick and bankrupt roboticist Owen Fox leads a community of rebellious outsiders who have shunned technology, rounds out Richter’s dystopia.

The writing is sharp and taut. Solid pacing with unexpected plot twists and carefully inserted backstory that doesn’t drag on the narrative, all satisfy the thriller genre. The early part of the narrative benefits from Richter’s black humour. As the tension builds, this humour gives way to gripping action scenes and atmospheric descriptions of settings. The protagonist is well-rounded and satisfyingly flawed. Vivid characterisations of cameo roles add colour and vibrancy. Dremmler’s reflections and evaluations of the world he is forced to live in are also very well-executed.

Auxiliary will appeal to fans of straight ahead noir thrillers as much as those with an appetite for the futuristic. There is no doubt in my mind Jon Richter has penned a novel Iain Banks would be proud of. Auxiliary belongs in that stable of classy futuristic noir that only a British author can pen.

If you’re an Iain Banks fan, you’ll love Jon Richter. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084P8JZ3K/

 

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

 

Book Review: Prophet’s Journey by Matthew S Cox

 

About Prophet’s Journey (Prophet of the Badlands) 

Althea struggles to adapt to an unexpected twist in her life—not being kidnapped in six whole months.The strange police from the faraway city claim the abilities she thought of as magic are really ‘psionics,’ and say she is far stronger than anyone they have ever seen. Despite their curiosity, they let her remain in the Badlands to protect her from an evil they call corporations. Of course, Althea knows all too well how powerful her healing gift is. For most of her life, she’d been a prize taken in raids. Tribes have killed to own her, and she let them.But the Prophet is done being passive.Having a family changes everything. No longer afraid to use her powers to protect herself, Althea refuses to be taken again… even when corporate mercenaries find her.

My Thoughts

A Prophet’s Journey is a fabulous book to sink into during our troubled Covid 19 times. The story is told through the eyes of Althea, an innocent eleven-year old struggling to come to terms with life in her adoptive family as everything around her is strange. She’s bilingual, Spanish and English, and the two become muddled in her mind, so much so that an assessment to determine if she is fit for school apportions her the mental age of a six-year old, something Althea is puzzled by. The people in her new home don’t seem to get her. And Althea knows she is mature beyond her years. In the opening chapters, the author masterfully handles the strangeness of Althea’s reality, easing the reader into the dystopian world he has created. This dystopian setting is situated in middle America. Things we take for granted – roads and traffic lights – are to Althea most odd. And that’s just the beginning.

Althea is The Prophet, a great healer, “the child with the blue eyes that lit up like stars.” She is a mystic with paranormal and transformational powers. She has telempathy, the ability to read or change the emotions of others, and this makes her highly sensitive to all impressions. I am reminded of indigo children, those with indigo auras especially sensitive to the high toxicity of the modern era, often with creative, artistic and mystic abilities. They are said to have rather piercing blue eyes, like Althea’s.

Prophet’s Journey is a story of Althea’s quest to return to her adoptive family after she is kidnapped. Thwarting her journey through the Badlands are the Raiders and the robotic tribe Sigma Six. Both groups have only one aim, to kill humans. Beautifully told through the eyes of a child with excellent characterisation especially of the protagonist, Cox delivers a page-turning, post-apocalyptic dystopian adventure with tremendous imagination, wit and insight into the dark and the light of humanity. A refreshing and absorbing read.

 

About Matthew S Cox

Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.

His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, developer of two custom tabletop RPG systems, and a fan of anime, British humour, and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of humanity, reality, life, and what might happen after it.

He is also fond of cats, presently living with two: Loki and Dorian.

Links:

Amazon Prophet’s Journey https://www.amazon.com/Prophets-Journey-Prophet-Badlands-Matthew/dp/1950738019/

Twitter: @Mscox_Fiction / https://twitter.com/mscox_fiction

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewSCoxAuthor

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/mscox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/matthewcox10420/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7712730.Matthew_S_Cox

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mscox.author/

Book review: Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People by Andy Rausch

 

About Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People

This quirky collection of short stories (and one novella) by Andy Rausch contains something for readers of every stripe. Rausch touches on a variety of genres, including horror, comedy, crime, and even Western, but every story features his unique, offbeat wit, superb writing, and razor-sharp dialogue, all delivered from a decidedly off-kilter perspective. His work has been praised by the likes of Cape Fear screenwriter Wesley Strick and Fort Apache the Bronx author Heywood Gould. Author Peter Leonard once compared his writing style to that of his father, Elmore Leonard. Storylines include a naive little boy mistaking a burglar for Santa Claus, bumbling white supremacists attempting to resurrect the dead body of Adolf Hitler, a man who develops an unexplainable craving for the taste of human flesh, a would-be author summoning the spirit of dead novelist Charles Bukowski to assist him writing, a showdown between legendary lawman Wyatt Earp and a deadly serial killer on the dusty streets of Tombstone, and many more. So ask yourself: are you a little bit crazy, and if so, are you up to the task of reading these twenty-two wild and crazy tales of darkness, wackiness, and outright debauchery?

My Thoughts

Just as the book blurb states, Andy Rausch has produced a hilarious, off-the-wall collection of twenty-one short stories and a novella, all with satisfyingly ironic and at times macabre twists. I much appreciate the author’s cutting and economic literary style and terrific dialogue. Vivid characters abound, including the ludicrous and inane Chunk, to the revolting, personal-hygiene-challenged degenerate Turk through to quirky Granny Wilkins and her special family dinner and the file predator Roach and his encounter with an attractive young woman at a gas station. Each story is distinct. Rausch manages to evoke vivid settings with the fewest words.

The novella ‘Wyatt Earp and the Devil Incarnate’ sees Deputy Marshall Wyatt Earp – in real life the legendary American West lawman and gambler of Tombstone, Arizona, best known for his involvement in the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral – dealing with a string of gruesome murders. Rausch inhabits the western genre with aplomb. I could picture the saloon, the men, the gun holsters, conjure the sound of boots on unpolished wooden floors. The tale is raw and I liked the twist at the end.

There is depth to all these tales, insights into the human condition, and oodles of amorality, derangement and hapless folk dealing with confronting situations. Rauch’s journalistic mind comes to the fore, telling it as it is, shooting from the hip, never blenching, almost as though the author is shrugging and raising his hands at his readers saying, well, people can be like that.

Where is humanity’s moral compass? Does humanity even have one? How far would you take a ‘what if’?

In all Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People is an elixir of a special kind, appealing to those after fast-paced shorts to escape into and get a kick out of, and those who enjoy the odd moment of pause and reflection. Highly recommended.

 

About Andy Rausch

Andy Rausch is an American film journalist, author, screenwriter, film producer, and actor.

He is the author of several novels and novellas including Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin. He also wrote the screenplay for Dahmer versus Gacy and is the author of some twenty non-fiction books on popular culture.

Books: Riding Shotgun, Bloody Sheets, A Time for Violence, Layla’s Score.

You can usually find Andy on Twitter @writerrausch1, and he maintains a blog at https://authorandyrausch.wordpress.com/

 

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Book Review: Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works Vol 2

About Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works

Another compendium of delightfully macabre stories by Jon Richter, author of Deadly Burial and Never Rest. Jon’s first short fiction collection was described as ‘Black Mirror meets Tales Of The Unexpected’, and here he brings you another chilling assortment of twisted tales encompassing killer creatures, terrifying technology, and scientific experiments gone horribly wrong… These dark fables are perfect for anyone who likes their reads short, shocking, and laced with a dash of black humour.

My Thoughts

This collection of dark tales gets off to a suitably disturbing start as family man Walter attempts to cope with the garbage in his town’s landfill site, a quarry known as The Pit  – the stench, the rats, the maggots, the flies. Walter isn’t happy. He sends his wife and children away to enjoy cleaner air. The mounting garbage, caused by a strike, is mirrored in internal filth, in corruption in local government. The story unfolds through the lens of several other characters, but the main character is really the quarry itself, brought to life in visceral detail, the reader doomed to smell the smells and hear the buzz of the flies. Richter majors here in revulsion and he does it well.

Throughout these ten stories the prose is taut; Richter writes with that necessary poise required of good horror. There is no flab here. The stories are infused with intelligence and insight, the prose filled with crisp dialogue and evocative imagery, such as the following from ‘The Truth’:

“I suppose what I’d experienced had been something resembling a breakdown: a feeling like choking, of being slowly dragged beneath the surface of a lake, bureaucracy and corporate politics tangled around me like discarded plastic ensnaring a helpless sea creature.”

As this second story progresses, I’m reminded very much of Ivor Cutler both in terms of wit and in toying with the absurd. I’m also reminded that so much talent fails to get picked up by mainstream publishing with its orientation towards volumes of sales which lends itself to sameness and formulaic storylines to feed the masses, Fifty Shades style.

All of the stories in this collection set out to disturb, revolt and amuse. If it’s originality you want, look no further. Jon Richter has a wry sense of humour that shines through the pages and at times has you laughing almost in spite of yourself. Disturbing Works Vol 2 is an immersive journey in what is my favourite form of horror: British black humour. Jon Richer is a rare talent and his works surely deserve to be read.

Author bio:

Jon Richter writes dark fiction, including his two gripping crime thrillers, Deadly Burial and Never Rest, and his two collections of short horror fiction, volumes one and two of Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works. Jon lives in Elephant & Castle and is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a great story. He writes whenever he can, and hopes to bring you more macabre tales in the very near future, including his upcoming cyberpunk noir thriller, London 2039: Auxiliary. He also co-hosts the Dark Natter podcast, a fortnightly dissection of the greatest works of dark fiction, available wherever you get your podcast fix. If you want to chat to him about any of this, you can find him on Twitter @RichterWrites or Instagram @jonrichterwrites.
His website haunts the internet at http://www.jon-richter.com, and you can find his books at Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2OXXRVP.

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Book Review: The Mentor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

About The Mentor

Kyle Broder has achieved his lifelong dream and is an editor at a major publishing house.

When Kyle is contacted by his favorite college professor, William Lansing, Kyle couldn’t be happier. Kyle has his mentor over for dinner to catch up and introduce him to his girlfriend, Jamie, and the three have a great time. When William mentions that he’s been writing a novel, Kyle is overjoyed. He would love to read the opus his mentor has toiled over.

Until the novel turns out to be not only horribly written, but the most depraved story Kyle has read.

After Kyle politely rejects the novel, William becomes obsessed, causing trouble between Kyle and Jamie, threatening Kyle’s career, and even his life. As Kyle delves into more of this psychopath’s work, it begins to resemble a cold case from his college town, when a girl went missing. William’s work is looking increasingly like a true crime confession.

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Mentor is a twisty, nail-biting thriller that explores how the love of words can lead to a deadly obsession with the fate of all those connected and hanging in the balance.

 

My Thoughts

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Mentor is a tense, dark,  psychological thriller. It starts in the urbane world of an upwardly mobile young professional, and descends, step by terrifying step, into a nightmare world of depravity and murder.  It is a thriller that cuts across genres and works on many levels.  There is a nail-biter of a crime mystery, which keeps the reader hooked from deceptive start to gruelling finish, with twists and turns that leave them wondering what is real and what isn’t.  There is a narrative about relationships and history, as we gradually learn the complex back stories of the main characters and their relationships with each other.  All the characters are interesting and the changes in point of view mean that we see the story in the round, understanding how each of the characters has their own version of the world.  Goldberg is masterful in creating sympathetic characters who are all engagingly imperfect, as well as a deeply worrying villain who none the less has charm and occasionally pathos.

For a lover of books, one of the most entertaining undercurrents of this novel is its running commentary on the production of fiction.  Kyle is a publishing editor; Lansing is a teacher of literature; Kyle has dreamt in the past of writing novels; Lansing still does.  Throughout the novel there is a conversation about how fiction works, richly peppered by references to authors from Edgar Allen Poe to Jean Paul Sartre, Camus to Orwell.  The story in no way depends upon knowing these references, but if you do recognise them, they give an additional depth to the read and each adds a clever counterpoint to the events of the novel.  This production of literature theme operates at a number of different levels, starting at the end point of the commercial publishing house, and gradually stripping the process down, layer by layer,  like a dance of veils, back to the origin of fiction in the darkest psychological secrets.  The opening chapters give a satirical  perspective on the publishing industry, wherein both books and authors are commodities to be cynically traded.  Moving back from this, we see the process of writing a novel – two almost comically different first-time novelists, both struggling to bring their precious works to completion.  Then, as we are drawn into the mind of the terrible William Lansing, we enter an exploration of the dark side of the creative process, the point where reality and fiction intersect.

Most authors of dark books will know that intersection, or at least will recognise the anxious looks on the faces of friends, family, partners, as the nagging question occurs to them.  This dark story, emerging from the mind of someone they have known and trusted:  “How come you have written this? I thought I knew you… Where does this stuff come from?”  The answer in Lansing’s case is far from reassuring – as the narrative moves on, we discover that in his case, the line between reality and dark fantasy is fine to the point of illusory. At times it appears that Lansing’s ghastly novel-within-a-novel is not only recording a real past, implicating both Lansing and Kyle, but also, in some terrifying way, writing their real future. The shocking events at the climax of the story underline that possibility, as does the wicked twist at the end of the book.

Perhaps, in fact, there is no boundary at all.

About Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Mentor-Thriller-Lee-Matthew-Goldberg/dp/1250083540/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+mentor+lee+matthew&qid=1579824002&sr=8-1

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A Bailey.

 

Book Review: The Unholy by Paul deBlassie III

About The Unholy

The Unholy is a dramatic story of Claire Sanchez, a young medicine woman, intent on discovering the closely-guarded secrets of her past. Forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop, William Anarch, she confronts the dark side of religion and the horror of one man’s will to power.

Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, The Unholy is a supernatural tale of destiny as healer and slayer.

Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.

My Thoughts

A prologue of a young girl standing in the wilderness watching her mother as she’s attacked by a murderous and plainly evil man in black sets the tone of this supernatural thriller. The girl is saved by wolves who take her to a cave and protect her. The first chapter then opens in a psychiatric hospital situated in the desert of mythical Aztlan where Claire Sanchez – the girl now grown – works as a natural therapist. She’s struggling to deal with her angry patient Elizabeth who has an important message for her, one Claire does not want to hear. She has shunned her medicine ways after witnessing her mother’s death, realising they expose you to too much evil. Yet the evil that killed her mother is coming for her too and she needs to face it. Ecclesiastical evil, no less, corrupted by power and greed.

I was excited to read The Unholy as I have a background in Transpersonal Psychology, including the medicine ways of native Americans and last year I visited for the first time some of the desert regions of the United States and experienced the deep spirituality of the landscape. I am happy to say Paul deBlassie III did not disappoint. The Unholy is a slow-paced and absorbing read peppered with tension and fear and plenty of action to hold the interest. The writing is strong, the plot well-conceived. Evocative descriptions of landscape and well-executed introspection fuel this read. The author demonstrates good characterisation, particularly regarding the protagonist, and provides just enough exposition to let the reader in on the most important theme in the book: native American spirituality versus the dark side of institutionalised Christianity. An entertaining and informative read leaving the reader with much to ponder.

About Paul DeBlassie III

Ph.D., is a psychologist and writer living in his native New Mexico. Memberships include the Depth Psychology Alliance, International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Author’s Guild, and the Visionary Fiction Alliance. He has for over thirty years treated patients in spiritual and emotional crises as well as writing and publishing visionary thrillers and essays in depth psychology.

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Book Review: Follow Him by Craig Stewart

About Follow Him

True love doesn’t die – it devours. Just outside the sleepy town of Dreury, a mysterious cult known as The Shared Heart has planted its stakes. Its followers are numerous. More join every day. Those who are lost and suffering seem to be drawn to it; a home for the broken. When Jacob finds himself in need of such a home, he abandons his dead name and gives himself over to the will of The Great Collector. However, love refuses to let Jacob go so easily; his ex-fiancé, Nina, kidnaps him in the hopes that he can be deprogrammed. As she attempts to return Jacob to the life they once had, a terrible fear creeps in: what if there isn’t enough of her Jacob left? When The Great Collector learns of his missing follower, the true nature of The Shared Heart is unleashed. Nina discovers what Jacob already knows: that hidden behind the warm songs and soaring bonfires is a terrifying and ancient secret; one that lives and breathes and hungers. And it’s coming for them.
 

My Thoughts

Follow Him falls into that category of horror that draws on the paranormal in the form on an ancient evil, a metaphysical entity of enormous potency. The novel opens with Jacob coming out of a strange trance in which he saw for himself what the worshippers of The Shared Heart thought they knew. He could fly, he could soar, and he had come face to face with the beast. The experience was ecstatic, a privilege, only for the chosen few, and all who worshipped coveted the same. Jacob is lost, doomed and it remains for his ex-fiance to save him. When gutsy Nina appears on the scene, breaking into The Sanctuary to steal Jacob away, the story picks up speed in true thriller fashion.

Stewart has penned a novel with a complex undertow very much pointed at the dangers of religious and spiritual cults. I enjoyed the Biblical overtones. It is no accident that Stewart named his protagonist Jacob – Jacob first appears in the Book of Genesis as the son of Isaac and Rebecca, he who wrestled with God and forced God to bless him. Jacob is said to have experienced a vision of a ladder, or staircase, reaching into heaven with angels ascending and descending, known as Jacob’s ladder. Stewart’s Jacob follows ‘The Collector’, the beast’s messenger, and has out of body experiences that change him forever in the most unpleasant of ways.

The complexities of this theme are cleverly buried beneath an action-led, fast-paced plot laced with sensuality. Well-crafted characters, excellent snappy dialogue, and a sharp and witty narrative style make Follow Him great entertainment. Yet this novel remains ultra-disturbing in every respect. Follow Him is Iain Banks’ Whit on steroids. Recommended to horror/dark thriller fans after their next fix.

About Craig Stewart

Craig Stewart is a Canadian author and filmmaker who learned how to count from the rhyme, “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.”

He’s a creator and connoisseur of everything horror; never afraid to delve into the dark, and then a little further. His written works include short stories, film scripts, articles, and most recently, a novel.

He has also written and directed several short horror films that have enjoyed screenings across North America.

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: mybook.to/craigstewart

Don’t be afraid to reach out to him on twitter: @TheCraigStewart

Or visit his website: everythingcraigstewart.com

Read Craig’s interview with Fanbase Press hereFANBASE PRESS

Follow Him can be found here – https://www.amazon.com/Follow-Him-Craig-Stewart/dp/194831875X/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.