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Search tags: Evil-in-a-Small-Town
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review 2018-08-10 22:30
BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN by Gilbert King, narrated by Kimberly Farr
Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found - Gilbert King,Kimberly Farr

The reason I requested this book from my library was because of Megan Abbott's 

excellent, succinct review, which can be found here: BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN

 

 

This is the shocking true story of a mentally challenged white man who was railroaded into confessing to a rape and who was then sent to a state hospital for over 14 years WITH NO TRIAL. It's a story of racism, small town corruption, networks made up of good old boys, and most importantly, a tenacious reporter named Mabel who never, ever gave up.

 

You know, I say it's a "shocking" story, but unfortunately, it's really not. Black or white, (mostly black), mentally challenged, and ALL poor-many people have not received a fair shake in this country over the years. It's unfortunate to note that many of them STILL are not receiving a fair shake. This book only proves how important a free press can be to the causes of justice and fair play.

 

Even though she has since passed of cancer, I feel the need to say WAY TO GO, Mabel! If it weren't for you, poor Jessie Daniels would probably have died in the state hospital.

 

Thanks to Megan Abbott for her intriguing review and thanks to my local library for providing the audiobook for free. Libraries RULE!

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review 2018-08-01 18:45
THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Auctioneer: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Joan Samson

 

 Evil in a small town is one of my favorite horror tropes and books like this are the reason why!

 

Harlowe, New Hampshire is a small town surrounded by small farms. It's a tightly knit community, or at least the townsfolk believe it is, until an outsider comes to town and things begin to unravel.

 

Perly Dunsmore is an auctioneer. Taking over a recently available old mansion in town, (due to the death of the previous owner), Perly sets about "improving" Harlowe by holding auctions to benefit the police department. These auctions are funded by the generous donations of the townspeople. Until they're no longer able to do so, (eventually there's nothing left), in which case they are gently and quietly threatened to come up with more donations, or ELSE. Will Harlowe survive these auctions or will it rise up against Perly in protest? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I've been thinking about what this novel was really about and I'm still not quite sure. The strongest feeling I have about it relates to that old poem: "First they came for the Socialists...", but that's not quite right. Then I was wondering if it was really about fascism-the auctions after all first funded a police department, to the point of having almost as many officers and deputies as there were citizens in the entire town. But that doesn't quite fit the bill either, especially in light of the finale. Then I finally gave up the analyzing and endeavored to enjoy this novel for the yummy, atmospheric piece of horror fiction that it was.

 

If this is the type of story that usually works for you, (quiet, small town horror a la Tryon's HARVEST HOME, or maybe Michael Rowe's ENTER, NIGHT), I highly recommend you give this book a shot! I listened to it on audio, narrated by Matt Godfrey, whose voicing of Ma Moore I will never forget.

 

Atmospheric, full of tension and palpable fear, THE AUCTIONEER still holds up as an excellent tale, even now, 40 years later. I give it my highest recommendation!

 

*I received this audiobook gratis from the narrator in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it! Further, I consider Matt Godfrey to be a friend, although we've never met in person. This has not affected the content of this review.*

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review 2018-06-08 18:30
THE TEA PARTY by Charles L. Grant, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Tea Party - Charles L. Grant,Matt Godfrey

A tea party on the lawn in the middle of summer? Sounds great to me! Even if the tea party does take place at the creepiest property in town: Winterrest.

 

THE TEA PARTY plays with one of my favorite horror tropes: evil in a small town. It does it with a haunting atmosphere, unusual weather and natural events, (like winds, and earthquakes), and it also features a large cast of characters. I like quiet horror and this certainly fits the bill.

 

I see a lot of reviews and ratings that aren't so great on this book and it makes me wonder why. The story takes its time, that's for sure, and there's also little blood and gore. But for me, these days, this horror tale fit the bill perfectly, though I do have to admit the denouement left me slightly stunned.

 

I listened to the audio version, narrated by Matt Godfrey, who was outstanding as usual. I found his laid back style to be a perfect match for this slow burning tale of a haunted mansion, an insane stonemason, and the entire town of Deerfield who could not avoid being affected by the recent events in their tightly-knit neighborhood.

 

If slow burning, small town evil stories aren't your thing, (think Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon), you might want to give this one a pass. On the other hand, if this is the type of story you've loved since childhood, like I have, (and that love has only grown), then THE TEA PARTY is definitely one for your "To Read" list.

 

Recommended!

 

*I received this audio courtesy of the narrator with no strings attached. This review is my honest opinion. *

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review 2018-05-07 18:45
TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS: DANA ROBERT'S CASEBOOK OF HORRORS, by Joe & Kasey Lansdale
Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts' Casebook of Horrors - Kasey Lansdale,Joe R. Lansdale

 

Joe Lansdale always delivers and now we know that Kasey Lansdale does too!

 

In the foreword, the "Champion Mojo Storyteller" shares with us a little bit about his character Dana Roberts, and how she came about investigating what she calls the "supernormal." This being what most people call "supernatural," but what Dana believes are just events that science cannot yet explain. I enjoyed her tales a LOT, mostly because I loved the framework of Dana being asked to share her stories with a group of skeptical men, (and sometimes women), in a smoky club. In the last two tales, Dana hires Jana, (Kasey Lansdale's creation), and they investigate a few cases together. While Dana is the skeptical, professional and beautiful lead "investigator," Jana is the irreverent, less polished, but also beautiful, sidekick. Having these last tales be from her POV was brilliant, giving us a different look at Dana's work while also highlighting the fact that Dana is kind of hoity-toity and not as willing to get her hands dirty as this reader first thought.

 

My favorites of the bunch were:

 

THE CASE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SHAMBLER I'm a sucker for haunted lighthouse stories and this one was a doozy.

 

THE CASE OF THE FOUR ACRE HAUNT was the tale of a haunted house. What made it special for me were the descriptions of the shadows; some of them honestly gave me the heebie-jeebies, and that doesn't happen often. Well done!

 

 

THE CASE OF THE ANGRY TRAVELER featured one of my favorite tropes-the whole city discovered beneath today's city type-thing. Now you know that Dana and friends found something down there, but what was it, exactly? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

Of the two Jana and Dana stories, THE CASE OF THE RAGMAN'S ANGUISH stood out the most for me. This was more of a novella than a short story, but there were different aspects to it than in the other tales, (I won't say what those aspects were), which made it unique and my favorite story of the bunch.

 

TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS was just plain fun and reminded me of the flat-out horror tales Joe Lansdale wrote back in the day. Joe's famous sense of humor may not be the prominent one in this collection, but Kasey's, (or Jana's) humor is, and it turns out? She's funny too!

 

Highly recommended for fans of short, scary stories that have a healthy side of humor and skepticism!

 

*Thanks to the authors and to the publicist at Cutting Block Books for the chance to read this book free, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-04-10 12:45
UNBURY CAROL by Josh Malerman
Unbury Carol: A Novel - Josh Malerman

Hell's Heaven! I haven't been this torn about a book in a long while. UNBURY CAROL was brave in exploring new territory, (weird western, I'd call it), while at the same time it wallowed in repetition.

 

Carol has a rare condition which causes her to fall into a coma for days at the drop of a hat. To anyone unfamiliar with her disease, she appears to be dead. It's important for at least someone to know what's going on with her so that she doesn't get buried alive by mistake. However, Carol is reluctant to tell many people for fear of rejection, and in one case, the departure of her true love who just didn't want to deal with the responsibility. Will she ever find true love again? Will there ever be a cure for her malady? You'll have to read this book to find out.

 

I'm going to attempt to be honest here, while also attempting not to spoil anything. I feel obligated to mention the repetition of certain words and phrases. They had me rolling my eyes repeatedly. "Hell's Heaven" (!), is a phrase that nearly everyone uses to no end. It's this world's version of OMG, or "Holy shit!", I guess. One overused word was "outlaw." (I get it. These are outlaws. We're in the west, they're wanted men.) Lastly "pig-shitters." Low down and dirty are the pig shitters. I get it. EVERYONE gets it. I'm speculating that the author used these words and phrases with the aim of world-building, and perhaps they helped to accomplish that...at first. After that, they just became so repetitious and irritating that it became kind of funny. (Or that could just be me, I'm told my sense of humor is off.)

 

Speaking of that world-building-I've read that the hardcover has a map of the Trail. (Everything that happens in this book happens along the Trail itself, or in the villages and towns located on the Trail.) That map is something I would like to see and I'd also like to read more about the Trail in the future. The villains in this book were interesting and a lot of fun, and they ALL had seemed to have some history that involved the Trail. In most cases, those people and the Trail's history were more interesting than the main characters-at least for me.

 

So, again, I am torn. I loved the creativity and imagination that went into Carol's disease and the building of this western world, while I was bothered by the repetition and what felt like an anti-climactic finale. Where does that leave us? At a 3.5/5 star rating. As always, your mileage may vary and I wold love to hear your thoughts on UNBURY CAROL when you're done!

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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