#BadMoonRising: Flicker by Len Boswell #paranormal #mystery

A story about a haunted diner with strange goings-on?  Ghosts with murderous intentions?  I’d totally read that.  And it’s what today’s author is here to share with us.  That and the X-Files script he wrote and sent in.  Welcome Len Boswell!

Would you rather be abducted by aliens or a serial killer?

Being abducted by aliens sounds like the best choice. A little travel, a little probing, maybe a meal or a snack, with the bonus of missing time and maybe a strange tattoo. A serial killer? Sounds too stressful and final. At least with aliens there might be a chance.

Would you rather be locked in a haunted insane asylum or lost in the woods with a killer on the loose?

I’ve been to a haunted insane asylum in West Virginia, and as creepy as it was, the alternative sounds much scarier and much more deadly.

Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?

I’m totally in the tank for Scully, so definitely X-Files. Again, aliens sound more interesting than ghosts. And I once wrote an episode of X-Files and sent it in for consideration. I’d been commuting over a bridge that had an accident almost every day. I thought, maybe the bridge is occupied by a troll, so the episode had Scully and Mulder in a battle of wits and traffic jams with a troll. Unfortunately, I sent in my episode just as the show was being cancelled. The tyranny of timing.

If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in the same setting, where would you choose?

New Zealand speaks to me, cries out to me. I can’t imagine a better setting for a thriller, mystery, or fantasy.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A rat terrier, because my own rat terrier, Cinder, sits behind me on my office chair, performing duties as muse each morning as I write.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a memoir of my father called Unboxing Raymond. When my sister died a couple of months ago, my nieces came upon a box marked “Ray Boswell’s treasure box.” There was more than a hundred items in the box, many of which immediately evoked memories of my father and the events of his and our family’s lives. Each chapter involves pulling an item out of the treasure box and writing about its meaning. I’m hoping to finish the manuscript in October.

Flicker is a modern-day ghost story set in a haunted diner. When Charlie Brace buys, refurbishes, and opens a diner that’s been up on blocks for many years, he gets much more than he bargained for, from neon signs that flicker insanely, to a quirky staff, to odd customers, to an even stranger hobo-philosopher who picks through his dumpster while lecturing him on the moon and mythology, to the amorous advances of the previous owner’s widow, to a mysterious mother and child who appear at the diner one morning carrying steaming baskets of pies that are, in a word, charmed, to the appearance of ghosts with murderous intentions.

Are the mother and child ghosts or do they just bake great pies? What about Charlie’s head waitress, who dresses like a woman from the 1950s and spouts diner lingo no one has used in years? What about the man in the dumpster? What about the widow, who seems to be holding back about her husband’s death? And what about the customers, who grow anxious and impatient whenever the pie runs out? Who exactly are the ghosts, why are they haunting the diner, and why do they want to kill Charlie?

“One part Kurt Vonnegut, another part Carl Hiaasen . . . Len Boswell is a quirky, off-kilter, and very talented novelist.” — Michael P. Hartnett, author, The Blue Rat

Purchase Link

Amazon

Author Bio

Len Boswell is the author of nine books, including Flicker: A Paranormal Mystery, Skeleton: A Bare Bones Mystery, Stick Figures, Santa Takes a Tumble, The Leadership Secrets of Squirrels, Barnum’s Angel (2020), and his ongoing Simon Grave mystery series: A Grave Misunderstanding, Simon Grave and the Curious Incident of the Cat in the Daytime, and Simon Grave and the Drone of the Basque Orvilles (2020). He lives in the mountains of West Virginia with his wife, Ruth, and their two dogs, Shadow and Cinder.

Social Media

Twitter: @simonsilverback
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/len.boswell.3
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/simonsilverback/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/simon-silverback

Five Midnights by Ann Davila Cardinal #bookreview #YA #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?

 

I’ve never been to Puerto Rico, but the author provides such vivid, immersive descriptions, I feel like I have.  And the food!  I drooled over several pages.

The author gives a balanced picture of Puerto Rico.  While showing the horrors of drugs and addiction, and impoverished neighborhoods, she also demonstrates the deep love of culture and community, and supportive, loyal families and friends willing to do anything to protect their loved ones.  And can I mention the food again?

One of my favorite things about this book is the relationships.  With little parental support at home, Lupe’s relationship with her aunt and uncle is a positive influence, and portrayed so well.  Javier hasn’t made good choices in his past, and battles his addiction every day with the help of Father Sebastian.  Javier’s relationship with childhood friend Carlos is more of brother than friend, even though Carlos’s music career has made him an international sensation.

Mention urban legends in a book description, and I’ll show up, and El Cuco is the stuff of children’s nightmares.  The opening scene is a perfect way to set up the supernatural suspense.  When Javier makes the connection and realizes he’s living on borrowed time, I couldn’t read fast enough.

As a main character, Lupe is feisty, loyal, and determined – all good things.  But her default mode is set to combative, and I felt it got in the way of the story.  The final showdown is tense and exciting, but because it’s seen through several POVs, it stretches on for pages, when it actually lasts the length of a song.

Five Midnights is a briskly paced, dark, YA supernatural mystery that I enjoyed from the first page, and would recommend to fans of urban legends who enjoy a touch of the paranormal.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Keep This To Yourself by Tom Ryan #bookreview #YA #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s been a year since the Catalog Killer terrorized the sleepy seaside town of Camera Cove, killing four people before disappearing without a trace. 

Like everyone else in town, eighteen-year-old Mac Bell is trying to put that horrible summer behind him—easier said than done since Mac’s best friend Connor was the murderer’s final victim. But when he finds a cryptic message from Connor, he’s drawn back into the search for the killer—who might not have been a random drifter after all. Now nobody—friends, neighbors, or even the sexy stranger with his own connection to the case—is beyond suspicion. Sensing that someone is following his every move, Mac struggles to come to terms with his true feelings towards Connor while scrambling to uncover the truth.

I was in the mood for a mystery that really made me think, and Keep This To Yourself checked off that box, and more.

The setting is perfect – a small beach town full of secrets, where everyone knows everybody’s business.  I immediately connected with Mac, and his determination to hold onto strained childhood friendships in the wake of a tragedy.  He’s fiercely loyal to his murdered friend, Connor, and the fluctuating emotions he feels are genuine and portrayed well.  Mac’s budding romance with Quill is quick, but totally sweet, and they share the goal of finding the serial killer.

Tension-filled scenes had me reading late into the night, and I finished over half of this book in one sitting.  At some point, I suspected nearly everyone, and the twist at the end is part of something that occurred to me, but I convinced myself I was wrong.

Keep This To Yourself is a clever YA mystery full of red herrings, an endearing narrator (and he works in a library!), shocking twists, and touch of romance.  I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and I’m looking forward to this author’s next book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon #bookreview #supernatural #mystery

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Timesbestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house, they start building one from scratch, without knowing it, until it’s too late . . . 

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home–wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks–she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.

I’m really behind on my Jennifer McMahon books.  The last one I read was The Winter People, which was an easy five stars for me.  When I saw The Invited on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it.

This author is certainly talented at creating a chilling, atmospheric setting.  Forty-four acres of rural land, very few neighbors, and creepy bog?  Oh, and someone died by hanging at the bog?  Perfect.  Throw in a main character who uses building materials from allegedly haunted locations?  Disturbing.  The author also weaves in some spine-tingling visuals – nothing that kept me up at night, but I’m a horror fan, so that’s a difficult task to accomplish.

The characters are likable in the beginning, but once the supernatural events begin, they’re at each other’s throats.  While both Nate and Helen develop individual obsessions, the reader feels the same frustrations with them as the characters do with each other.  Honestly, if I was Nate, I probably would have tossed Helen out on her keester.  They’re also pretty slow to realize things aren’t quite right in their neck of the woods.

Maybe it was because I read an ARC, but several things are mentioned in the book that didn’t happen – events, something a character said, etc.  Like maybe the author meant to go back and add things during revisions, but forgot?

The Invited is a slow burn, supernatural tale that starts off a bit sluggish, but picks up around the 45% mark.  Enough hints are dropped that readers will probably figure out the twists before the ending, but it was an enjoyable read for me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

Killing November (Killing November #1) by Adriana Mather #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #thriller

It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim. 

What an awesome premise – a school that trains assassins.  Throw in some murders, and you’ve got a ton of suspects, right?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book.  The cover didn’t do much for me, but the description sounded crazy good.  And it delivered – I wanted to finish this book in one sitting.  November’s life changes vastly almost overnight – and she has no clue what’s going on.  Every student at the school seems to know things about her, but she’s never met any of them, and no one is willing to share their knowledge.  Every student is also a trained killer and strategist, and trusting the wrong person could be a fatal error.  The stakes are high throughout the book, and I found myself holding my breath in some scenes.  I’m pretty sure I suspected almost everyone at some point in the story.  It’s obvious the author did her research in nonverbal communication and  weapons, with some historical tidbits thrown in that add to the authenticity of the story.

Once the secrets are revealed, some are surprising and some predictable, but they sure do make for a tense, exciting read.  With fabulous character development, political intrigue, a complex, thrilling plot, and a main character whose life is in jeopardy on nearly every page, Killing November is addictive, and one of my best reads this year.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

The House Always Wins by Tom Minder #bookreview #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Someone is shooting up Dirty Sam’s.

Will the Long Harbor police get their man, or woman, before a casino heist, a slots player who disappears in a puff of smoke, a crossbow-toting florist, and an undercover agent who makes a mean goulash, complicate the investigation.

Oh, for the simpler days of illegal gambling.

The quirky character descriptions alone intrigued me before I even knew what this book was about.  A cross-bow toting florist?  I needed to know more about this person.

Long Harbor is filled with some unsavory characters, and it’s difficult to figure out who’s trustworthy – but that’s part of the charm of this book.  There’s no shortage of suspicious characters, and they’ll keep the reader guessing where their loyalties lie, and who did what.

Character development is a strength for this author, and I could easily envision each character, along with their good traits, flaws, and weaknesses.  I also snickered several times over things they did or said, and imagined an Ocean’s Eleven-type soundtrack playing in the background.

Although the author wrote another book set in Long Harbor with several of the same characters, both are considered standalones.  I struggled with the extensive character list – remembering who was who, but that could be because I didn’t read the first book.  I wouldn’t say reading it is a necessity, but it may help with the confusion.

If you enjoy quirky, well-written characters, a briskly paced plot, and a good heist story, I highly recommend The House Always Wins.  

I received an ARC from the author.

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston #bookreview #YA #mystery

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees’ retirement accounts, Owen’s father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father’s crimes. It’s bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac–and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen’s only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets–and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he’s claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past–and write a better future. 

After reading a couple of heavy sci-fi/fantasy books, I was in the mood for an intriguing mystery.  I’d never read anything else by this author, but rest assured, I plan on correcting that.

I finished this book in less than two days (while I was supposed to be working on several other projects), but just couldn’t put it down.  The dual narrative between Owen and Noah is done so well, and goes about revealing the layers of secrets at a perfect pace.  A small town setting and and secluded pecan farm only add to the years-old secrets.  With the shocking situation Owen and his mother find themselves in, being stripped of everything they own and having to endure horrible comments and treatment from both adults and teens affected by Owen’s father, it’s incredibly easy to relate to them.  Rather than wallowing in self-pity over everything he’s lost, I admired Owen’s determination to better his situation, help his mother, and find his father.

Upon reaching the end of the book, I had several theories, but the twist came as a surprise.  Warning:  Whatever you do, don’t flip to the end of this novel and spoil it for yourself!

If you’re looking for an absolutely un-put-downable mystery with deliciously surprising twists, this is your book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.