The unbelievable becomes, well, believable in this gripping tale of small-town terror.

THE PIPER’S GRAVEYARD

A HORROR NOVEL

Real and unnatural threats abound in this fantastical horror novel.

Cessy Timms is a detective, a long way from her days as an angry and rebellious teen growing up in the small mining town of Hamlin, West Virginia. Her life is simple and focused on work until her little sister, Kate, disappears. Cessy discovers that Kate must have gone back to the town they both fled years ago, summoned by mysterious messages from an ex-boyfriend. Cessy follows Kate’s trail only to find that things are rather strange in Hamlin. The town has effectively sealed itself off from the outside world to keep out the “vermin,” a term used by a group of enigmatic talk radio hosts. The radio program can be heard all over town. In fact, it appears that the radio hosts are listening to the conversations of the residents. There are other bizarre happenings: Much of the population has vanished; sinkholes are swallowing up houses; and strange bugs look to be opening holes in the fabric of the universe. Even Cessy’s own parents have changed. They refuse to help her search for Kate and seem to be more focused on the vitriol being spewed by the shadowy radio hosts. Farthing spins an excellent tale as Cessy races to save Kate and get out of town. The characters are vibrant and the town, appropriately creepy. It would be difficult not to draw parallels between the fictional events in Hamlin—where the local population determinedly ignores facts in favor of the hatred spewed by talk radio—and real-life current events. Yet the author largely resists explicitly pointing out the obvious. Instead, the odd happenings tie in neatly to the disappearance of Cessy’s sister. Despite the riveting story’s supernatural overtones and otherworldly climax, Hamlin feels like it could be any small town in America. And perhaps that’s the scariest part of all.

The unbelievable becomes, well, believable in this gripping tale of small-town terror.

Pub Date: March 31, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 404

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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More slow-burning than most of Slaughter’s shockers, this one will still rattle you down to your bones.

THE SILENT WIFE

A Georgia prison inmate’s offer to unmask a phone-smuggling operation in return for reopening his pedophilia conviction leads Slaughter’s regulars into an eight-year-old case that strikes all too close to home.

Daryl Nesbitt insists to Will Trent and Faith Mitchell, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, that he was railroaded by Grant County Detective Lena Adams and that the sexual images of children on his computer were fruit of the poisonous tree that should never have been admitted into evidence. He certainly didn’t attack Grant Tech student Rebecca Caterino, brutally assault her, and leave her for dead; the real scandals are that Lena, the ranking detective on the scene, didn’t realize that Beckey was alive till GBI medical examiner Sara Linton realized it half an hour after the police came on the scene and that after Lena sent Leslie Truong, the fellow student who found Beckey’s body, walking back to campus, Leslie was raped and murdered before she arrived. Not only are there horrors aplenty along the trail of what looks like a serial killer who may still be notching two victims a year, but revisiting the earlier crimes gives Slaughter, through a series of extended flashbacks, a chance to relitigate the breakup of Sara’s marriage to late Grant County chief of police Jeffrey Tolliver, who headed the investigation that sent Daryl Nesbitt to jail. Slaughter, renowned for her shocking opening sequences, this time reserves the horrors for her unflinching descriptions of the multiple assaults, some of which result in fates worse than death for the victims, and for Sara’s confrontation with a killer who’s both monstrous and all too human.

More slow-burning than most of Slaughter’s shockers, this one will still rattle you down to your bones.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-285810-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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