Reclusive Reads

Where I read and review Dark Fiction, from the classics to the contemporary, while favoring the quietly atmospheric, with side trips into everything from Fantasy and Mystery to the occasional work of non-fiction.

Professional Reader80%Reviews PublishedChallenge Participant

2016 NetGalley Challenge




A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel

A Fever of the Blood (A Case for Frey & Mcgray) - Oscar de Muriel

Murder most foul in an Edinburgh lunatic asylum strikes to close to home for 'Nine-Nails' McGray.
He knows the escaped maniac responsible....a madman who shares a secret with McGray's own sister that he will do anything to uncover.
Even if it means following a bloody trail that leads from Edinburgh to the home of the legendary Lancashire Witches......who may not be as dead and gone as people think.

The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel

The Strings of Murder - Oscar de Muriel

Victorian mystery meets the X Files in this extremely entertaining novel introducing the detective team of London based Inspector Ian Frey and Edinburgh detective Adolphus 'Nine-Nails' McGray.

A brutal locked room murder that hints of Satanic ritual and supernatural forces....what more can you ask for?

But wait, there's more!

The most entertaining dysfunctional duo to grace mystery fiction in some time.....realized upon the page with intriguing depth and humanity......and their verbal sparring is frequently worth the price of admission.

Highly recommended.

Echoes of Violence by Glen Krisch

Echoes of Violence - Glen Krisch

Scientists blindly probing into the secrets of the universe....what could possibly go wrong?

In the capable hands of Glen Krisch, it can go wrong in ways even I didn't expect, as he takes the concept of zombie apocalypse and dashes past that signpost up ahead....the one Rod Serling is chain smoking next to....and winds up somewhere around the Outer Limits....and folks, let me tell you, it's one scary place to be. A place where the world has been reduced to a forever of one day, a day that ends in horror, only to begin again....and again...and again....unless a family can learn to remember, to survive, and to stay together at all costs.
And face a future I shudder to contemplate.

Highly recommended for anyone looking for something completely different by one of the most dependable authors in the business.

Highly recommended.

Expected publication: April 30th, 2019

The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz

The Dark Game - Jonathan Janz

10 aspiring writers are invited to a writing retreat at the remote mansion of reclusive author and literary giant Roderick Wells, an invitation that will transform one of them into a bestselling author in their own right.
But this bargain turns out to be more Faustian than benevolent......and failing to impress the great Roderick Wells carries a price far darker than any of them can imagine.

Janz spins a nasty little tale of psychological and supernatural horror, with touches of BURNT OFFERINGS that makes one wonder what he has agreed to on his path to becoming one of the powerhouses of contemporary horror.
Someone really needs to keep an eye on this man.

Many thanks to Flame Tree Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Highly recommended.

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

The Wolf and the Watchman - Niklas Natt och Dag

Stockholm, 1793:
An unspeakably mutilated body found floating in a sewage filled lake is the catalyst that will unite two men on a mission to shed some light in a very dark place and time.

For Mickel Cardell, a wounded veteran, night watchman in name only who discovered the corpse, this is a purpose his life has been lacking for far too long.
For Cecil Winge, a noted lawyer, this is his last chance to bring justice as consumption overtakes him.

Together, they will hunt through a city and a time of commonplace cruelty and casual sadism.....where filth and poverty fill the streets, life is brutally short, and compassion only a meaningless word.

A completely absorbing, dark historical mystery that brings 18th century Stockholm to life, rather than simply a backdrop to the literally oozes off the page and leaves the miasma of sewage lingering in your nostrils.
Weaving all the darkest compulsions and impulses humans are capable of....from political intrigue and it's partner, rampant paranoia, to moral corruption and sexual deviancy.....abject poverty and those who prey upon it.

The characters of Cardell and Winge are totally engaging, multi-faceted living beings.....honorable men who stand by their moral codes....and are capable of playing dirty when the situation calls for it.

Filled with twists, turns and dead ends, this one will keep you turning pages and guessing till the very end......and it's an ending that's worth the trip.

Highest possible recommendation.

If She Wakes by Michael Koryta

If She Wakes - Michael Koryta

A tragic auto accident in a Maine college town has left a visiting professor dead, and his senior escort, Tara Beckley with locked in syndrome.....fully conscious, but unable to move.
And in extreme danger.
An accident that may not have been accidental, yet didn't go the way it should have.
Someone is out to clean up the mess....and the bodies begin to drop....

Koryta's latest is an engaging thriller that takes Murphy's Law for a breakneck ride, which the author masterfully keeps right at the edge of losing control, leaving the reader with their fingers embedded in the dashboard.

Highly recommended.

This was an eARC from NetGalley.

Fear by Ronald Kelly

Fear - Ronald Kelly

For 10 year old Jeb Sweeney, life in the backwoods town of Pikesville, Tennessee in 1946 is bittersweet.
Growing up without a mom, a father left "simple minded" by shell shock, and a sick grandmother...becoming an adult too early can be a trial.
But he has his friends, his first love.....

And then, he doesn't.

Something horrific has descended upon Jeb's life....a legendary creature from the dark place they call Fear's come to feed, and it has taken his girl, his friends and his dog.

Jeb is about to journey down a dark a place angels fear to find the witch woman who holds the secret to stopping the terror ripping through his world. Accompanied by his father and a legendary bluesman, Jeb is heading into the heart of a nightmare....welcome to Fear County.

A pitch perfect coming of age/small town horror novel, Kelly's writing brings the people, the time and the place alive with a style of Southern storytelling only he can do. And offer up a monster, and a place, that will rent space in your nightmares for a long time coming.

Highly recommended, FEAR has earned a place on my shelves alongside BOY'S LIFE, SUMMER OF NIGHT, and MIDNIGHT RAIN.

Go get some FEAR for yourself....and grab everything else Ron Kelly has ever written. You'll thank me sooner than later...

Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America by Les Standiford & Joe Matthews

Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America - Joe Matthews, Les Standiford

The abduction and brutal murder of Adam Walsh went unsolved for 27 years. This is the story of the determination of one dedicated detective who would not let the case rest until a monster was brought to justice.

A powerful, well written account that is heartbreaking, infuriating, horrifying and finally inspiring.

Highly recommended.

Monk Eastman: The Gangster Who Became a War Hero by Neil Hanson

Monk Eastman: The Gangster Who Became a War Hero - Neil Hanson

Pet shop owner.
Petty thief.
Street brawler.
Leader of a street gang 2,000 strong, the most feared on the Lower East Side of New York City by 1900.
Muscle for the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine.

A colorful life, and worthy of a biography....but that was only half of Monk Eastman's story.

Having lost his criminal empire while in prison, he would enlist and go off to fight in World War 1.....where his talent for street fighting, and fearless nature would see him cited for bravery, hailed as a hero upon his return home, and his crimes pardoned.

But Monk's past was never far away....and gaining on him.

An engaging biography of a truly unique individual, and a well researched history of both Old New York.

Highly recommended for fans of The Gangs of New York, or anyone who enjoys a well written biography.

The Hymn by Graham Masterton

The Hymn - Graham Masterton

A series of deaths by self immolation lead to a cult that promises immortality by fire....a cult with ties to the Third Reich and its twisted fascination with racial purity and the occult.

Classic Masterton at his best, blending the racial insanity of the Nazis, Norse mythology and a fast paced horror tale that delivers in spades.

Originally titled: THE BURNING

Highly recommended.

The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker

The Fourth Monkey - A.J. Barker

For five years, the Fourth Monkey Killer, a pseudo-vigilante serial killer, has reigned terror on the city of Chicago....punishing those he believes "Do evil" by abducting their daughters.
Within days, they receive a small white box...."Hear no evil".
Then a second box...."See no evil".
Then a third...."Speak no evil".

Within two days, the body will be dumped.

The FMK task force have nothing. He leaves no evidence. No clues. And most disturbing of all, every target he has chosen.....have done evil.

When a man is killed by a bus, the lead investigator of the task force gets a call. The unidentifiable man was carrying one of FMK's boxes. The first of three.
FMK may be dead, but he has left a living victim who is still in danger.
He was also carrying a diary, one that may reveal who he was.....and what made him.

Was it an accident....or suicide?
Is the diary the key to finding FMK's final victim.....or a red herring written by the most unreliable narrator of them all?

Is this even FMK?

The hunt is on.....and the game hasn't even come close to ending.

Barker has written a thriller that goes beyond breakneck....there are no brakes. It twists so hard, so leaves the reader with whiplash....and keeps them guessing right to the final sentence.

Highly recommended.

The Purification Ceremony by Mark T. Sullivan

The Purification Ceremony - Mark T. Sullivan

A group of deer hunters in the winter wasteland of northern British Columbia find the tables turned on them, as they are hunted down, one by one, and left gutted like the game they once sought.

The prey of a maniac who moves like the winter wind....swift, unseen and lethal.

Their only chance of survival lies in the hands of Diana "Little Crow" Jackman, a Native American with a troubled past, who must call upon the tracking skills taught to her by her father.....and do the unthinkable....hunt down a hunter.

A well written, well paced thriller that delivers more chills than a Canadian winter...and not just from the cold. The addition of Native American lore gives the novel an added depth, highlighting the chasm between cultures....and between civilized people and the rabidly primal.

Highly recommended.

Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder

Hanging Hill - Mo Hayder

Mo Hayder never fails to deliver, and this novel is no exception.

When a popular teen is brutally raped and murdered, a detective throws caution, and possibly her career to the wind, to find the killer. But her personal life is unraveling, and the secrets she thought she left in the past are rising up once more.
Hayder keeps the tension high as two sisters, estranged for years, are brought together by a killer, and people are never who they appear to be.....

Fantastic twists and turns abound......and the last twist....a gut punch.

Highly recommended

Conan Doyle for the Defense by Margalit Fox

Conan Doyle for the Defence: A Sensational Murder, the Quest for Justice and the World's Greatest Detective Writer - Avishai Margalit

Glasgow, Scotland: 1908
A wealthy, and extremely paranoid elderly woman is brutally murdered in her home. Clues that would prove to even the untrained to be blatantly false lead the police to a suspect, Oscar Slater - immigrant German Jew with a shady reputation. Slater finds himself imprisoned for a life of hard labor in one of Scotland's worst prisons...barely escaping hanging for the crime. After 18 and a half years, and close to suicidal, Slater manages to get a cry for help Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
A well known crusader for justice, despite the blows to his reputation concerning his fascination with the afterlife....and a faked photograph of "fairies", Doyle takes on the case....applying the same investigative tools used by his fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes.
Battling the rabid anti-Semitism and anti-immigration bias that gripped Scotland, and the entire British Isles at the time....along with a police department and prosecutors more willing to frame a man on questionable circumstantial evidence rather than find the real perpetrator, Doyle would spend his final years seeking justice, finally freeing Slater in 1927.

A remarkable work of biography, history and true crime that captures the time and place that this travesty of justice occurred, and revealing the honorable man Doyle was, along with the innate genius for deduction that he was blessed with, a genius that lives on in his most famous creation.

Overall, a highly recommended read...for Doyle fans, Holmes fans, history buffs and true crime aficionados everywhere.

The Devils of D-Day by Graham Masterton

Devils Of D Day - Graham Masterton

In July of 1944, 13 mysterious black Allied tanks crossed the bridge into the village of Le Vey, Normandy, and laid waste to the Germans.

12 of those tanks vanished into the mists of history.

The 13th lies rusting where it stopped. And after 35 years it remains, welded shut, sealed with a crucifix and given wide berth by the locals.

Until Dan McCook, an American cartographer making maps of the area for a book on World War II, becomes fascinated by the old relic....and inadvertently unleashes a demonic force intent on reuniting the 13. To wage a war that will bring Hell on Earth.

Masterton flips the old standby of "Nazis tampering with the occult" and drops the responsibility for supernatural weapons on the Allies in this fast, fun read.

Recommended for fans of old school horror.

The Buzzard Zone by Ronald Kelly

The Buzzard Zone - Ronald Kelly

An unknown parasite brings the human race to it's knees....transforming the living into ravenous Biters, ambulatory undead vehicles of infestation and certain death.
The only warning that they are coming....monstrous flocks of buzzards that follow the swarming Biters....feeding on the carnage they leave in their wake.

And people aren't the only living things susceptible to the plague.

Levi Hobbs and his family have managed to survive in his childhood home in the Smoky Mountains. But when their luck finally runs out and the Biters find them, they are forced to flee east, seeking a new safe haven.

But safe places are few and far between. And the Biters aren't the only threat on the road to sanctuary.

Along the way, they will find survivors, decent people fighting for their lives.....and predators who prey on them.

Will they find a place to make a life in a world gone mad......or a place to make a last stand against the inevitable?

Ronald Kelly has written a tense, superior zombie thriller, peopled with characters that are perfectly imperfect. Each bearing the traumas of their own pasts, traumas that surface as the trauma of their battle for survival takes it's toll. Add in a welcome dose of true humanity, and country common sense, you can't help but feel for them....and in doing so, feel the horror of their plight that much more.

And let's not forget appearances by folks that fans of the horror community will recognize immediately.

Ronald Kelly is back....and better than ever.

Highly recommended.

Currently reading

The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O'Meara
Cemetery Lake: A Thriller by Paul Cleave
Inside the Asylum (Kathy Ryan Novel) by Mary SanGiovanni

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