Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Review: DEVIL SHIP by David Longhorn

5 Spooky Stars 
Sainte Isabel,  a tiny isolated Caribbean island,  is the home of an ugly history and uglier legend;  as American investors Joe and Sara discover,  sometimes legends bear truth. The resort development into which they have sunk all their funds lacks workers, the local police appear to be riddled with corruption, then they are assaulted, and then arrested! But is the source laziness, corruption--or the sadistic,  violent,  late 17th-century privateer turned pirate, and his demonic familiar?

Review: THE BETRAYED by Heather Graham

5 Stars 

In tiny Sleepy Hollow, New York,  the main attractions are the Headless Horseman and his author,  Washington Irving.  When a psychopathic killer determines to mock the Headless Horseman legend in brutal and gruesome ways, it's up to the FBI Krewe of Hunters to search out and stop the killer. A new member,  a childhood friend of one of the first victims,  has been personally summoned by that victim's spirit [though he doesn't believe it].

As usual,  author Heather Graham Krewe of Hunters in the history and the literary history of the area, and brings plenty of tense Suspense while the Krewe and civilian counterparts hunt an unexpected,  twisted villain. 

Review: THE HEXED by Heather Graham

5 Spooky Stars
Krewe of Hunters 13

Although I enjoy each novel in this exciting Series,  simply because each is geographically and historically based, I'm bound to have some favorites! (Smile) THE HEXED is one, because it's set in Salem, Massachusetts and environs, and the history is, of course, the infamous 1692 Witch Hysteria.  I enjoy the exposure to history through this Series, especially when it relates to an interest of mine. I also enjoy the ghost interactions,  and the hoops characters put themselves through trying to convince others and themselves that they really don't see or hear ghostly apparitions. 

Review: THE CURSED by Heather Graham

5 Spooky Stars 

Key West

I'm quite enamoured of this Series and have enjoyed each installment I've read.  Even though my Reading order has been due to availability rather than to Series order or publication date, each novel is still enjoyable because the author provides sufficient,  but not an overflow,  of backstory,  and in each installment some Series characters will reappear, not always the same. Each has intriguing Paranormal elements,  individual personal tension,  and a romantic involvement.  A plethora of Suspense and some remarkably twisty villains maintain interest. 

THE CURSED is set in Key West,  primarily at a popular bed-and-breakfast,  and includes the up-to-date plot thread of an elusive criminal organization involved in finding and thieving artifacts and treasures.  Bed-and-breakfast owner Hannah O'Brien owns an antique home, replete with ghosts, and quite possibly treasure!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Review: SEEING DARKNESS by Heather Graham

5 Stars


Although I enjoy this entire series (Krewe of Hunters) for its foundational Paranormal basis and the opportunity to learn of different geographic settings,  so far SEEING DARKNESS (of this writing,  the newest) and SACRED EVIL are my absolute favorites. SEEING DARKNESS is set in Salem,  Massachusetts [yes, THAT Salem]. [SACRED EVIL is set in Lower Manhattan and very much involves late 19th century New York City history,  London's Jack the Ripper, and a possible American Ripper of that era.]

Four professional women from Massachusetts,  all in careers,  all Harvard graduates,  return to Salem to celebrate one's upcoming wedding.  A past life regression for one, Kylie, backfires as instead she experiences her own murder. Except it's not hers, but a killing taking place in Salem simultaneously to her vision experience.  Later that evening,  Kylie sees and identifies aloud the murderer in her vision,  and a Salem native,  FBI Special Agent Jon Dickson of the Krewe of Hunters, is on the scene already,  tracking a serial killer moving North from Virginia to New England. 

As well as a compelling plot and tons of suspense,  the characters are excellently delineated. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 20 by Scare Street

5 Spooky Stars
3 Spooky Scary Stories!

"Proof" by Ron Ripley: Kudos to protagonist Joel for his creative inventions! Especial kudos to the author for the immensely unexpected plot twists and that twisty but morally gratifying ending! 

"Ice Fishing " by Ron Ripley: Do NOT read this at night alone! I still cannot stop thinking of this story and of "Proof" [above]! I admired so much the deep characterizations; that's one of the author's gifts. Two brothers, at a moment in time: then bang! [figuratively] and everything changes and oh my word how that change is affected! Sheer implacable horror!!

"The Last Light" by Rowan Rook: A small-scale Apocalypse [as far as reader and characters know, limited to one community] but unavoidable and implacable and scared me senseless. Then, that Ending!!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Review: ROADKILL by Tom Coleman

5 Stars

Whoa! What a reader's hook! At first I thought,  is this an instance of "Nature fights back?" but then as the story continues, "Oh my! What is really happening on this isolated road?" The story could have taken any of many different paths from that point. High drama and high tension render a frightening tale with a strong "What If?" factor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Review: TOMB OF GODS by Brian Moreland

4 Stars

TOMB OF GODS is a very complex horror/fantasy which delves deeply into mythology (not just Egyptian,  but also Sumerian, Akkadian, Mesopotamian,  Celtic) as well as into philosophy, psychology,  and metaphysics. Certainly there's never a dull moment. Archaeology in Egypt is the surface focus,  but the story reaches far beyond and much deeper than that.


4 Stars

UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND is a compelling coming-of-age with a "disabled" protagonist (severe scoliosis) and his summer encounter with a beautiful girl who happens to be...inhuman. Although the plot and action are riveting, I give praise to author Glenn Rolfe's talent at characterizations.  As he has proven time and time again,  he gets inside his characters' psyches, knowing them perhaps better than they know themselves (although protagonist Rocky and first-love November are both quite self-aware).

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Review: SACRIFICE AT ST. NICK'S by F. R. Jameson

4 Spooky Stars

An entry in F. R. Jameson's GHOSTLY SHADOWS novella series. I perused the sample, and couldn't resist the book. The conclusion is SO twisty! I 'm still pondering "What?? Who?? What??" which will be understandable when you read the story. I definitely wanted to delve deeper.

An adolescent girl, considered a "freak" by her sister and peers, discovers a "famous" (cult famous) schlock horror author is interred a half-mile from her highly dysfunctional home, apart from the other interments in a crowded cemetery. Soon she begins to obsess, studying the author's works, visiting forums, hanging out at the grave, heeding a voice...

A quick but scary, thought-provoking, read. Definitely reminiscent of the late Dennis Wheatley,  with maybe a frisson of James Herbert. 

Review: THE UNSEEN by Heather Graham

5 Stars

The formation of a second Krewe (the elite FBI unit of exceptionally trained agents, who are also paranormally Gifted) comes in response to a bizarre case pattern in San Antonio, Texas, site of the Alamo. In fact, the historic site seems to be the nexus of strange multiple disappearances,  all of young women,  some local, others visitors. 

Twists and surprises abound in the investigation,  along with romance and much heartfelt introspection. THE UNSEEN is KREWE OF HUNTERS Series Book 5.

Sunday, May 10, 2020


5 Spooky Stars 

In the continuing saga of unassuming but unusual Gas Station Jack, the man who takes a licking (repeatedly) and keeps on ticking, Jack now faces, not a dark god beneath the station, but a shapeshifter,  a dimensional horror, and the imminent approach of a Cosmic Entity determined to destroy the Universe [as we know it]. Meanwhile. Jack is tasked to train a new full-time employee,  Rosa, while learning to cope with his newly altered physique and developing friendship with part-time Jerry and with Deputy Amelia O'Brien.  Still in the background but never really absent is the "secret admirer" who terms him/her/itself Jack's "Biggest Fan," a seemingly omniscient individual who holds the secrets of Jack's absent memories: is it Live? Or is it Photoshop?
In a town--and a workplace--where Unreality is the norm, on whom-or what--can Jack rely?

Review: CERTAIN DANGER by F. R. Jameson

 5 Stars

I do admire strong female protagonists.  When such an individual is "ordinarily" a retiring and unassuming person who tries in general to be "invisible," product of an extraordinarily gory childhood, who suddenly [in a rather Jekyll and Hyde transition,  but without the potion] becomes a powerful person animated by---well, please discover for yourself--I feel that "Casper Milquetoasts" everywhere have suddenly been vindicated. 

After reading the book, but before composing my review,  I saw a comment by the author, F. R. Jameson, that one role here was written for portrayal by the late lamented and much admired actor Peter Cushing. Light bulb moment! The entire story then replayed in my mind, and I totally agree.  Mr. Cushing would have been exceptional in this particular role [which you, reader, should discover for yourself]. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020


5+ Spooky Stars!!

I totally LOVED this horror novel, and I hope there's 20 sequels! I have little sense of humor,  but even so I frequently laughed aloud at some of the scenes or turns of phrase, so yes, I guess this is a "horror comedy." I also totally emphasized with protagonist Jack. Man, this dude can't get a break! But he still perseveres,  despite permanent insomnia and, I think,  more than a touch of Asperger's [witness his encounters with the vain psychoanalyst], bullies, weirdos,  and gods under the gas station.  Like the Energizer bunny, he keeps on keeping on. [Like a Timex, he keeps on ticking. ] Assaults, broken bones, insomnia,  betrayal: NOTHING stops this unassuming feckless hero. Gotta admire. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Review: BELLE VUE by C. S. Alleyne

Release from Crystal Lake Publishing August 2020

5 Spooky Stars!

My reaction to BELLE VUE,  from first page to end, is an enormous resounding chorus of "WOWS!!!" and "MORE! MORE! MORE!" BELLE VUE is fantastic and exceptional,  one hundred percent riveting--I wished to never stop! I want sequels!! The characters,  the history, the backstory: author C. S. Alleyne has clearly spent time in the research caves studying Asylum history in Great Britain and the United States, and "organizations " such as the Hellfire Club. She certainly has a finely attuned characterization of Human Evil, whether it stems from innate depravity, or from life tribulations [as is the case with Mary Grady]. Excellent character delineations, exciting plotting,  and oh! What a plot! I want to drop everything and read it all over again!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Review: SCARY STORIES by Ron Ripley and Scare Street

5 Spooky Stars

"Walking": an experienced outdoorsman, solitary by nature, camps too close to the dreaded community of Anger, New Hampshire. What he discovers is beyond belief.

"The Bridge ": oh, poetic retribution! A long-married couple check out an odd structure, near deathly Anger, New Hampshire: a Bridge constructed to "Nowhere."

"Squatting ": Of the 5 stories in this collection, this one and "Maker's Hill" gave me the most chills. In fact, they're "screamworthy." A veteran with PTSD seeks a shelter for the winter--in an "abandoned" house in Anger.

"Maker's Hill": New England may be the setting, but this tale could have come right out of the 19th century South. Shudder, Shudder. Shudder.

"The First Bad Thing ": A fascinating explication of a young boy's autism, and its gifts of eidetic memory, wisdom, and will.

There's a plethora of chills to be provided in this collection, and once again I am reminded of the wise adage: "DON'T READ AT NIGHT! DON'T READ ALONE!" All but one of these tales focuses on a Sole Protagonist, a man (or in one case, a boy) out and about all alone, confronted by unbelievable terror. What that terror is, and how they respond, provides for deliciously twisty fear. In "The Bridge," the protagonists are a middle-aged couple, out alone, in the Woods.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Review: THE STALKING by Heather Graham [KREWE OF HUNTERS #29]

5 Spooky Stars 


THE STALKING is edgy Romantic Suspense,  set in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana.  I especially enjoyed the Paranormal elements: since this is in the Krewe of Hunters Series,  there are several characters who see and communicate  with ghosts,  including protagonists Special Agents Cheyenne Donegal and Andre Rousseau, both South Louisiana natives.

Author Heather Graham provides a goodly view of history and culture and brings the New Orleans scene to vivid life while unrolling a sharp-edged plotline with unexpected Denouements.  There's also romantic tension for readers who want Romance in their Suspense.  I plan to delve into the other novels in this extensive series. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Review: HOUSE OF SECRETS by Darcy Coates

4 Spooky Stars 
When a family is cursed, escape is never easy; maybe impossible.  It doesn't seem to matter that the family home is gone, the ancient monster won't be avoided.  Sophie and husband Joseph are in for more terrifying adventures, potentially fatal encounters.  

I enjoyed the clever creation of the "monster " and the spooky events. However, I found Sophie's co-dependence on her husband annoying.  After all she's been through, before marriage and at the family estate, Northwood,  ought to have built character and independence. 

Review : HOUSE OF SHADOWS by Darcy Coates

4 Spooky Stars

As a youngster one of the subgenres on which I "cut my literary teeth " was the then-popular "Gothic Suspense," with gloomy covers featuring brooding mansions in the moonlight and frightened heroines in full escape.  I devoured those, both the historical and contemporary settings.  Probably reading so deeply in this type helped formulate some of my concepts of life: independence vs. Dependence on  others, poverty vs. Wealth, romance vs. "Convenience."

HOUSE OF SHADOWS and its sequel HOUSE OF SECRETS hearken back to those halcyon days of Gothic Suspense. Its Victorian Era setting,  the family home so intensely isolated,  the oddly-behaving kinfolk, and the Supernatural events that dog the Argenton lineage creates a suspenseful read.