Mysterious creatures and gruesome killings terrorize a New England town in this horror novel.
In 1964, a young boy is disemboweled in a storm drain under the Esker in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Rescuers fail to recover the boy’s body when it’s dragged off by a predator covered in seaweed with yellow eyes (“Stopping for a moment, the creature started to growl; a slow, deep growl that made the storm drain feel even colder than its concrete walls”). The image sticks with rookie firefighter Paul Tobin and seasoned Capt. Butch Hunt. Eleven years later, they experience an eerie sense of déjà vu when another boy goes missing. This time, the incident sets off a string of murders, each more horrific than the last. A park ranger is violently beaten and dragged from her vehicle. A young couple are ambushed and slaughtered, with nothing left but severed feet to attest to their presence. As the list of the missing and the dead grows, the firemen and Park Ranger Ryan Gallagher lead a dangerous search for the creature (or creatures) that hunts in the storm drains under the earth. Tracey (Tales from the Tables, 2014, etc.) has the makings of an excellent horror story. The initial murders are shocking, and the presence of an unknown entity lurking under a popular park is wonderfully disturbing. The first disappearance is wrought with tension as rescuers struggle to find a missing boy in the face of a howling storm and rising tides, with the young victim’s screams of pain echoing in their ears. But the book loses steam as the narrative progresses. What ensues is a litany of homicides that lacks emotional impact once the initial shock value of death wears off. There is little character development, resulting in a dearth of emotional connection to the victims or the rescue team. As the body count rises, the absence of a deeper plot becomes noticeable. Why the sudden killings? Is there something in the history of the town? There must be more to the story than a string of violent episodes. An abrupt ending and unexpected reveal leave more questions than answers, perhaps a nod toward an impending sequel or two.
Despite the hints of a promising Hitchcock-ian thriller, this murder tale fails to live up to its potential.