paranormal thriller

Review of ‘Shadows in the Water’

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When Louie Thorn was just a child, her parents, DEA agent Jack Thorne and his wife, were killed by the Martinelli family, a gang of drug lords. Only Louie’s ability to ‘slip’ through the shadows saved her from sharing their fate. Now, an adult, she has only one purpose in life; to avenge the murder of her parents. Using her ability, she eliminates the Martinelli gang one-by-one, along with all those who worked for them. Her aunt, Lucy, who shares her special ability, turns to ex-DEA agent Robert King to help Louie learn to live a ‘normal’ life. King, though, is working on a case as a favor to his former DEA colleagues that, while it appears routine, is connected to Louie’s past in a way that threatens both of them, and everyone they care about. Added to this deadly mix, Louie learns that she hasn’t eliminated every Martinelli. One remains, Konstantina, the bastard of the head of the Martinelli clan, has inherited his father’s position. The two of them share a long relationship that began shortly after her parents were killed, when, while sleeping, Louie would sometimes ‘slip’ to his bedroom in Italy. He is obsessed with her, and conflicted over his inheritance. While he knows that if she learns his identity, she will likely kill him, he’s driven by this obsession, and the desire to put things right.

Shadows in the Water by Kory M. Shrum is a mind-boggling paranormal thriller that, with its many twists and turns, will grab your imagination and not let go until the startling conclusion. Warning: this is not a book you’ll want to read on the cliché ‘dark and stormy night.’

I give this one four stars.

Review of ‘The Ghost Files’

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Ever since her mother tried to kill her when she was five, 16-year-old Mattie Hathaway has been able to see ghosts. It’s bad enough that she’s been in the foster care system since that terrible incident with her mother, but she doesn’t need the hassle of being thought weird, so she keeps it to herself. But, when her foster sister, Sally, appears before her with a bullet hole in her forehead, she has to do something. As she feared, though, people think she’s a bit strange. Things only get worse when other wraiths, similarly killed, begin to appear, including one strange boy spirit who is capable of hurting her—really physically hurting.

Her only hope is a rookie cop, only a few months on the job, who doesn’t know if he believes her, but is sure that he has strong feelings for her.

You might think that The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker is a scary story for young readers, but I caution you; think again. A chilling tale that begins a bit bumpily, but very quickly, the ‘bumps’ are the things that inhabit the night. Mattie is seeing the victims of a demented, vicious serial killer who seems to enjoy inflicting maximum damage on the victims before dispatching them. The stakes are raised when Mattie tunes into one of the victims who hasn’t died yet, but who is being tortured, and she learns that she’s slated to be the next victim. Can she find the killer before the killer finds her? I’m not telling, because that would spoil the book for you. You’ll just have to read it and find out for yourself.

I give you fair warning, though; read this book in a room with all the lights on.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Crescent City’

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Alec Winters, a 40-year-old native of New Orleans, though in good shape, looks like a normal person. But, he has another personality, one that was brought out when he came to his sister Cat’s rescue when their father was trying to rape her. To some he’s seen as a bright angel of redemption, but, to the evil, he’s seen as a giant, red devil, come to take them to the depths of hell.

Crescent City by Chariss K. Walker is a dark paranormal thriller that follows Alex as he moves around the Crescent City protecting the weak from their tormentors. It is also the story of Vivien Simon, an investigative reporter who senses there’s more to the story of a few grisly murders than meets the eye, and who is relentless in her pursuit of the truth.

A tense story that is for the most part well-paced, this tale will chill you as Alec races against time to save his love, from a greedy man who is willing to kill her rather than see her belong to someone else. It’s only with Vivien’s help that he can do it, but there’s a possible cost; it might mean exposing Cat to more trauma. He is faced with an almost impossible choice. I won’t spoil it by telling you how the story turns out, but I assure you that you’ll like it. It did get a little choppy near the end, almost as if the author was rushing to get it done, which is too bad, but didn’t spoil what’s on balance a pretty good story.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it three and a half stars.

Review of ‘Death Unmasked’

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Houston Police Detective Sean Jamison is tormented. Long on the job, he’s suffering both physical and mental burnout, as he and his colleagues search for a serial killer who is targeting the women of the city. Then, belching smoke from an oil refinery triggers a memory in Jamison, a memory of a past life, and a love lost. As one memory piles on top of another, he realizes that his lost love is no longer ‘lost,’ but is a possible target of the killer known as The Magician, and only dogged police work and his strange ‘intuition’ can catch the killer and save his beloved.

Death Unmasked by Rick Sulik is a gripping paranormal thriller, deftly combining the paranormal with police procedure as Jamison finds more and more links with his past as he chases a killer who quotes from an ancient poem after each crime.

The author drops one surprise after another as you make your way through this riveting story, ending with a more than satisfying, but strange conclusion. I can’t say which was better, the way he handled reincarnation, or the way he built a murder mystery, clue by clue, so I guess I’ll just have to say the whole thing worked for me.

This was a pretty competent first novel.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Guilty Spark’

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Faz Pound, aka Black Spark, has spent a year incarcerated—accused of killing a fae—before being brought before the Council of Hidden and condemned to die. Under Council protocols, he’s allowed his freedom during the three days leading up to his execution. Faz is determined during that brief spell of freedom to prove his innocence, but a powerful force, one able to control the minds and actions of others, is just as determined to see him die.

Guilty Spark by Al K. Line is book four in the Dark Magic Enforcer series, and it continues in the same vein as those that came before it. Blood-curdling action and biting humor (considering the number of vampires in these stories, that pun is intended) fly at you from page one like gnats in a barn. Despite his other-worldly origins, you can’t help but sympathize with Faz as he deals with one seemingly insurmountable problem after another: his vampire girlfriend, Kate, in his absence has gone to the dark side, and he has an invincible giant coming to kill him. Just another day in the life of an enforcer; except this could be his last day—ever.

Seldom do books about the supernatural manage to scare the crap out of you at the same time they have you laughing hard enough to wet your pants, but the author has  managed to do it quite capably. He’s managed to make the non-human and inhuman characters that populate this story all too human. After reading this one, you’ll check your closets every night before you go to bed, just to be sure.

I received an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I have yet to read, New Spark, book 3 in the series, but the nice thing about this series is that each one can be read as a stand-alone story. I have that one teed up for the coming weekend, and I’m almost hoping for a thunderstorm to provide the sound effects as I read it.

Another five star offering from a master of the craft.

Review of ‘Currents of Change’

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Fleeing an abusive relationship with her lover, Greg, Sara O’Neill travels to the small town of Kowhiowhio, and her grandmother’s ancient house. There, she encounters Moana, a Maori spirit woman who accuses her of witchcraft and is seeking to demolish the house. She soon develops a relationship with Moana’s brother-in-law, Nate Adams and his daughter, Abigail, but the situation turns dire when the ghost of her great-grandmother appears and she learns that the old house conceals a deadly secret.
Currents of Change by Darian Smith is a chilling paranormal novel that chronicles Sara’s journey of discovery and her developing relationship with Nate, as she learns to let go of the past and move toward the future; a future that is threatened by the fae the house was built to contain, and the startling discovery of her own heritage.
Told alternately from the point of view of Sara and Nate, with diversions as Sara reads her great-grandmother’s diary, the tension and sense of foreboding builds inexorably from the start to the startling climax.
The author does an amazing job of building the tension, with enough red herrings and diversions to keep a reader guessing until the ending—one that will be a complete surprise. The supporting characters are fully fleshed out, especially Greg, portrayed as a manipulative abuser from the beginning. The only sticking point for me was the final confrontation with Greg in the burning house at the end. The reader is not told whether he lives or dies—but, given his lack of any redeeming characteristics, one can only hope that he got what he deserved.
A compelling thriller, that small point is the only criticism I can level at this superb story by a master craftsman. I give Smith five stars for Currents of Change.