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review 2018-02-24 01:53
The Fisherman by John Langan
The Fisherman - John Langan

Abe and Dan, coworkers, with nothing in common but their grief, find the bond of friendship and solace in the peaceful hobby of fishing the streams in upstate New York. Then Dan suggests Dutchman's Creek. Although Abe is unfamiliar with this waterway, he is more than willing to give it a go.
When one of the locals hears of their interest, he feels the need to tell them the legend of Dutchman's Creek, and why it is avoided.
Assuming it's no more than a colorful piece of folklore, a fish story as it were, they head for Dutchman's Creek......where they find a darkness deeper than any body of water, one that promises for a price.

Langan has written a fantastic novel, at turns achingly human, and gutwrenchingly horrifying. A grand tale of cosmic folklore that would have done Algernon Blackwood or Arthur Machen proud.

Highest possible recommendation.

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review 2018-02-23 18:45
Corpse Cold: New American Folklore by John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan
Corpse Cold: New American Folklore - Chad Wehrle,John Brhel,Joseph T. Sullivan

 CORPSE COLD: NEW AMERICAN FOLKLORE is a nice volume of tales which also includes outstanding illustrations. Just look at that impressive cover to get an idea of the drawings within.

 

The stories, however, didn't entirely float my boat. While well written for the most part, they are lacking that certain punch that I enjoy in short tales. This is just my personal view and for someone that hasn't read the hundreds of horror stories that I have? This may seem like the best collection of stories EVER.

 

My favorite was IT THAT DECAYS. If you weren't afraid of the dentist before, you will be now!

 

AUTOPLAY ON: This was a fun little tale featuring a You Tube channel that was left on all night. (I guess it's best not to do that?)

 

MOSS LAKE ISLAND was a neat story that took a weird turn about a third of the way in. It gave me the creeps much like IT THAT DECAYS. I like the creeps.

 

FRIENDSHIP: BURIED AND DEAD. This tale had a cool concept for a theme park. I would like to go there!

 

A CASKET FOR MY MOTHER cracked me up, especially since this book was funded in much the same way as the main character wants to fund the purchase of a casket for his mom. (I'm not sure it was meant to be funny, but hey, I'm a sick person-just look at the stuff I read!

 

A quick word about the illustrations? (Okay, two words.) They're fabulous!

CORPSE COLD would be a perfect introduction into the world of dark fiction for an adult who is not that familiar with or well-read in the genre. Perhaps someone who has participated in a round of campfire storytelling and wants more? Seasoned horror readers, like myself, prefer that extra punch to the gut and a tad more blood/gore as well.

 

Recommended for those new(er) to horror fiction and dark tales!

 

*I received an e-copy of this book free in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-02-22 18:47
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
The Dispatcher - John Scalzi,Zachary Quinto

This story takes place in a world where insurance companies employ dispatchers to help prevent the costly premature death that failed surgery often presents. They’re present during surgery and if the patient is on the edge of death they are there to zap them with a lethal dosage of premature death. They the person usually awakens naked and good as new in their home rather than dead and buried and saddling their families with grief and lots of expenses.

See in this world if you die naturally you’re gone for good but if it’s accidental or due to murder you typically come back. Why? Who knows. No one knows! You just have to go with it. You’ll drive yourself crazy waiting for answers if you’re a questioning type like me.

Of course with this type of scenario certain reckless morons do stupid reckless things like cutting off each other’s arms for fun or joining a fight to the almost death club. Thus the shadier dispatchers step up to earn a little side cash to fix the mess and keep it quiet. Who can blame a guy for wanting to make a few extra bucks? But this type of work comes back to haunt our main character when a former colleague goes missing.

A mystery ensues and this is where my tired brain started to shut off and daydream about chocolate cupcakes and my next book. Needless to say, it wasn’t able to fully engage me after the enthralling beginning but that may be my fault. I went into this one blind and vaguely remembering that I read somewhere online that Scalzi was a funny writer. Or maybe I've mixed him up with someone else? I didn’t find this one funny but it may be an anomaly or I may have no sense of humor. Either way, it just okay in the end. 

If you have the chance and inclination, check out the audio version narrated by Zachary Quinto. He does a fine, fine job with the material.

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review 2018-02-22 14:06
The Sussex Downs Murder - John Bude

The premise of the Mystery content turned out to be very familiar me, thanks to other books I've read. In other words, I figured this one out, simply because the author was resorting to tricks and slight-of-writing that have been done to death--well, done to murder.

 

I went back to look at my updates at the Booklikes website, and did notice that I was still stumped as of page 153, but it wasn't long after that when a major penny dropped in my brain, and once a major revelation opened up before me--again, one that authors use repeatedly--almost everything formerly hidden fell into place. This disappointment--just about any whodunit I figure out is not going to get top marks from me--combined with rather cardboard characterizations, including the comic-relief ones, as the author focused on the puzzle and not the psychology of the people or the drama of the situation, brought the book down a bit, in my estimation.

 

Overall, not a bad effort. Was it Thomas Berger's catch-all quote, or someone else: "there was nothing really wrong with it, except that it was kind of lousy.". I can't even use that quote here, because the book was not lousy, just very, very familiar in its premise. I'm actually kicking myself for not noticing a rather routine bit of skullduggery (hah!) early on. The book is too short to really ever get dull, and the author sets a peppy pace, while running a handy formula with bits jiggled around. I  would agree with Martin Edwards who, in his Intro to my edition of this novel, makes note of the fact that this reads a lot like a Freeman Wills Crofts novel, up to including the fact that Bude's detective, Meredith, is not much different than Crofts' (once-)famous Inspector French. That leads me to recommend the following Crofts novels, ahead of The Sussex Downs Murder:

 

Inspector French and the Sea Mystery

Inspector French and the Starvel Hollow Tragedy

The Mystery in the Channel

 

In particular, Sea Mystery shines best, if you want my two cents accumulated from any pennies that keep dropping in my head, from books that try and use Crofts' tricks to try and outdo him; and heck, they probably weren't even Crofts' tricks originally, were they?--a Conan Doyle novel comes to mind, and that's going way back, plus I think of a Michael Connelly Mystery that I loved, but that jiggles bits of a familiar premise.

 

I would say Sussex Downs Murder beats out Inspector French and the Box Office Murders which, to me, feels dated and quaint--though there's some nasty crap going on in that one thanks to ruthless villains--but other than that, I've given you my version of a reading order that supports the notion that Crofts jiggles familiar bits and pieces around more masterfully than perhaps Bude does. Still, I've read much more of Crofts, and should probably give Bude more chances to impress me. I certainly wouldn't be adverse to another John Bude outing...but he will need to stay away from that...that...um, that...that specific, um, thing writers do.

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review 2018-02-22 09:24
Horror with a touch of class
Night Things - John Michael Talbot

Lauren Montgomery, her son Garrett and her "I love myself so much" rock star husband Stephen Ransom have rented a large palatial mansion in the Adirondacks in North Eastern New York. It soon becomes apparent that something terrible is going to happen in "Lake House" which has a reputation for murder and bloodshed. Garrett becomes attuned to the sounds and ghostly apparitions that frequent the house, Lauren becomes more and more concerned about the welfare of herself and her son, and the lovely Stephen with "his mane of dark ringlets" portrays a misogynistic attitude towards women only ever really concerned for his own selfish wellbeing...."we're playing in the big leagues here. You got to do it to them before they do it to you."......

Some beautifully strong characters make Night Things a joy to read and in particular I was drawn to the evil and aptly named Elton Fugate who has some very strange habits as young Garret learns when he observes him from a secret location....."For it was not a space being, or even something living, that Fugate was choking, but some sort of grotesque doll, or manikin of a woman....it was completely rigid and appeared to be constructed out of vinyl and inflated like a beach ball. It was also naked and possessed a frowsy and garishly made-up face and had scruffy patches of lurid yellow hair on both its head and its pubic area."..... Lake House is a place where evil is enticed in and soon it will become the focus of a battle between what is good and what is bad...."There were things that were evil in the universe, unfathomably evil. And there were things that were good".... The final Epilogue is like a story within a story, where Stephen will come to regret giving a lift to a rather petite blond woman called June with...."her sagging, middle-aged body gleaming in the moonlight"...and her friend Arnie.

Many thanks to the good people at Valancourt Books for sending me a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. The wonderful Valancourt Books are an independent small press who specialize in the rediscovery of rare, neglected and out of print fiction.

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