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




Things You Need by Kevin Lucia

Things You Need - Kevin Lucia

A traveling salesman who is closer to the end of his road than he realizes finds himself in Clifton Heights, a quiet little town that teeters uneasily between Norman Rockwell quaint....and someplace else. Where shadows whisper and familiar streets lead to places that aren't on any map.

Weary in heart and soul, on the verge of suicide, he's compelled to drive the night streets, seeking something he can't name.
What he finds is Handy's Pawn and Thrift. A cluttered little shop with the sign "We Have Things You Need".

Along with things he didn't want to know.

Kevin Lucia weaves eight tales into the shadowy mosaic of Handy's Pawn and Thrift, a dark night of the soul for a man whose travels have brought him to the end of one line...and the beginning of another in Clifton Heights.

A pure pleasure to read, Lucia's Clifton Heights stories deserve comparison to Charles L. Grant's Oxrun Station tales.

Highly recommended.

Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay

Growing Things and Other Stories - Paul Tremblay

A masterful collection of uniquely told tales of horror, from the weird to experimental pieces that will linger in your mind, and your nightmares long after you close the book.
Tremblay's voice is refreshingly his own, even in tribute stories to Laird Barron (THE BARN IN THE WILD) and the one and only Hellboy (HER RED RIGHT HAND).

A must-have for fans of Tremblay, short stories, and damn fine writing.

Highly recommended.

In The Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland

In The Scrape - Mark Steensland, James R. Newman

Two young brothers formulate a daring plan to escape from the cruel attentions of their abusive father, and find their long lost mother.
The best laid plans of mice and boys...because their father isn't the only threat standing in their way.

A poignant, heartbreaking coming of age novella, IN THE SCRAPE delivers on an emotionally visceral level.....from the power of love, to the chains that abuse forge, to the strength that comes when one pushes the innocent to their limits...and then over those limits.

James Newman and Mark Steensland work together is flawless, their writing styles melding together perfectly, becoming one powerful, compelling voice.
This is a team readers need to keep their eye on.....along with Silver Shamrock Publishing.
Well done.

Highly recommended.

Many thanks to Silver Shamrock Publishing for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: July 1st, 2019.

Hearthstone Cottage by Frazer Lee

Hearthstone Cottage (Fiction Without Frontiers) - James George Frazer

When four friends take a holiday at a remote Scottish cottage, the accidental death of a stag causes something dark to stir within it's walls.
Something that reaches out from the past, driving one of them to the edges of alcoholism and insanity.
His past sins are the catalyst.....but there are older debts, darker sins waiting in Hearthstone Cottage.....and now, there are choices to be made because what has been wronged must be repaid.

A chilling, atmospheric tale that creeps up on you like fog off a loch.

Highly recommended.

Expected publication: October 10, 2019 by Flame Tree Press

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

The Gemini Experiment by Brian Pinkerton

The Gemini Experiment (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Brian Pinkerton

Terminally ill Tom Nolan is offered a second chance, and so much more, when he is approached by a privately funded company to become the first human to have his mind downloaded into a perfect android replica.
Sworn to secrecy, unable to even tell his family, he agrees.
But when the first test subject, a convicted felon suffering from cancer and with nothing left to lose goes rogue in Tom's replica, escaping to take his place.....and killing anyone who stands in his way.
Now a fugitive, Tom learns that there are others hunting his replica, as Russian agents race to obtain the rogue for their own purposes.......and behind it all, an even darker agenda lurks.

A breakneck science fiction thriller that hits all the marks you'd expect from across the genre, and nails every one.
Pinkerton delivers in spades, with taut writing, a compassionate protagonist, a fiendishly twisting plot, and enough dirty dealing for several novels.

Highly recommended.

This was an eARC from Netgalley and Flame Tree Press.

How It Happened by Michael Koryta

How It Happened - Michael Koryta

'When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.'

Sherlock Holmes may have been right.....but what if that which remained was still impossible.....and still the truth?

A confession that leads nowhere:
No bodies.
No evidence.
And a suspect above reproach.

A thought provoking thriller that will keep you guessing as an FBI agent risks his career and his life on the word of a notorious liar based solely on his instincts.

Roosevelt's Beast by Louis Bayard

Roosevelt's Beast - Louis Bayard

A fictionalized retelling of Teddy Roosevelt's ill fated 1914 expedition down Brazil's 'River of Doubt', that finds the former president and his son Kermit kidnapped by an undiscovered Amazonian tribe to help them kill an unknown creature that is suddenly hunting in the jungle......something that kills with a savagery that defies description.

A literary adventure tale set in historical fact that is at turns thrilling, heartbreaking and horrific, transforming Teddy's personal 'River of Darkness' into a powerfully moving piece about family, fortitude, fear and the insanity that lurks where civilization ends.

Bayard captures Teddy's personality and drive with a deft hand, and he allows the facts about the Roosevelt family to give his novel an undercurrent as dark and unforgiving as the fiction.

The Nest by Gregory A. Douglas

The Nest - Gregory A. Douglas

On a small, quiet island off the coast of Cape Cod, there's something up down in the dump.
The rats are on the run....and then they simply aren't there anymore.

Something nasty has just moved up the food chain....and the human inhabitants are next on the menu.

The Nest is an old school 'Nature Gone Wild' novel, featuring healthy doses of gore....brought to you by the creatures that make pretty much everyone's skin crawl.....mutated....evolving past repulsive into a relentless, flesh shredding, bone pulverizing army.

Yes, folks....there appears to be a bit of a roach problem.

A fast, fun read that only asks you to enjoy the ride....this ain't highbrow horror....but it will have you seeing things scuttling under the fridge when you flick on the lights....can't ask for more than that.

Kill Monster by Sean Doolittle

Kill Monster - Kill Monster Sean Doolittle


The steamship Arcadia sinks to the bottom of the Missouri River, taking with it a crate that contains something uniquely deadly, intended to stop a madman preying upon abolitionists in the Kansas Territory.

Present Day:

Amateur treasure hunters unearth the long lost Arcadia and it's cargo....opening a crate marked 'Books' that unleashes a sleeping whose original target is dead and gone.

But that target's bloodline has survived....until now.

A fast paced creature feature that blends historic fact, folklore, and a touch of the X-Files into an entertaining horror novel.
Doolittle's talent for thriller writing amps up the tension levels and gives the novel a great sense of momentum...the kind with no brakes.

Highly recommended.

This was an eARC from Netgalley and Severn House Publishers.


Expected publication: September 1st, 2019

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service - Gary Sinise

This is Gary's story.
Of how a directionless teen from the suburbs of Chicago would go on to become an acclaimed actor, one of the founders of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, which helped launch not only his career, but those of the likes of John Malkovich, Gary Cole and Laurie Metcalf.....and lead him to his role of Lieutenant Dan in the film Forrest Gump....the role that would find Gary earning the love and respect of veterans everywhere.

A love and respect that he returned....and became his life's mission.

Through personal highs and lows, Gary has stayed true to his heartfelt dedication to our veterans, becoming their biggest advocate since Bob Hope.

Whether it's entertaining troops playing in the Lt. Dan Band, bringing school supplies to children in war zones, raising funds on behalf of veterans and first responders, or building smart homes for wounded veterans through the Gary Sinise Foundation, Gary has never stopped in his mission to serve and honor those whose service has cost them the highest price, and deserve the greatest thanks.

Never preachy, Gary tells of his life's work in a humble, honest manner....simply being the man he is, and relating his story.
One that needs to be shared.....because Gary Sinise isn't one of the lip service celebrities and politicians who talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. Gary leads by example we all need to follow.

The world needs more people like Gary.

Read his story, and be moved, as I was, to do more for those who do so much for us all.

Highest possible recommendation.

Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave

Cemetery Lake: A Thriller - Paul Cleave

Bodies floating to the surface of a lake in a graveyard.

Bodies laid to rest in coffins not their own.

For ex-cop turned P.I. Theo Tate, it's a case he must that began when his life was torn apart by tragedy, and pushed him over an edge no policeman should cross.

An edge he may be crossing again.

A masterfully written noirish thriller that delivers in spades, Cleave takes the story right to the razor's edge at points, but keeps things on track with a deft hand, and creating a uniquely human character in Theo with real depth who I look forward to reading more about.

Highly recommended.

Inside the Asylum (A Kathy Ryan Novel) by Mary SanGiovanni

Inside the Asylum (Kathy Ryan Novel) - Mary SanGiovanni

Something is breaking loose in the Connecticut-Newlyn Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Stalking the halls after dark, brutally murdering inmates within their locked rooms.

The inmates know who is responsible, but no one believes them.

Occult investigator Kathy Ryan interviews an inmate about his connections to a deadly cult, she learns about the killings....and when she reports what she heard, she finds herself investigating the suspect, inmate Henry Banks.

Because Henry is innocent.
Henry doesn't kill.
But his imaginary friends do.
And now they're getting ready to break free of Henry.....and break out into the real world.

Leaving Kathy to face an invasion from a place that doesn't exist by creatures that shouldn't exist before they find the secret to becoming in the real world.....and the only person who may know how to stop it is her brother.....who is one of the inmates.

A terrific, fast paced novel of terror where the monsters of the human mind collide with Lovecraftian things that shred minds and breed things that will blow your mind out of your ears.

Highly recommended.

Expected publication: May 7th, 2019 by Kensington Publishing Corporation.

This was an eARC from Netgalley and Kensington Publishing Corporation.

The Lady From The Black Lagoon by Mallory O'Meara

The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick - Mallory O'Meara

A powerful, moving biography about the life and works of Milicent Patrick, the uncrowned First Lady of monster design and the artist responsible for Universal's iconic Creature of the Black Lagoon.

Mallory O'Meara brings her personal heroine to life and light with the dedication of a true detective, as Patrick's story holds mysteries beyond how she had her brightest moment snuffed out by Hollywood's sexist motion picture industry, and proves herself to be as strong as her subject matter.....exposing how very little as changed over the years. She deserves widespread acclaim for giving back Milicent Patrick to the world, and placing her in the limelight she earned but never knew in life.

Truly two incredible women. Get to know them.

Highest possible recommendation.

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 too 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

Currently reading

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor
The Search for Joseph Tully by William H. Hallahan
Tomb of Gods (Fiction Without Frontiers) by Brian Moreland
Boy in the Box (Fiction Without Frontiers) by Marc E Fitch

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