Set in a sleepy, 1970s California town, Beck’s debut high school thriller follows the fortunes of a young man as he battles to fend off a supernatural cult.
Finding it hard to make friends at school, John Meyer can’t believe his good luck when easygoing “cool kid” Kelly Chulainn becomes his unlikely comrade. So when Kelly dies in a mysterious accident, John is determined to find out who’s behind his friend’s death. Scratches of green paint on the door of a gray Dodge Charger lead him to question whether Kelly’s dark green Mustang plunged over a mountain edge by itself. Soon, the state police are involved, and John finds himself being drawn further into a dangerous world of magic and superstition. As his life crumbles around him, only Kim, a local Chinese girl whom John befriends at the school library, gives him the strength to continue his fight for truth. An evil, cultish gang bidding to take over the world is a slightly implausible conspiracy, of course, but there’s enough suspense to keep the high-wire plot moving toward its climax. John, the hero, survives constant threats to his life; in fact, there’s rarely any doubt that he won’t win in the end. Although the story slants to a younger readership, some might find the robed figures, menacing demons and human sacrifices a bit unsettling. The author weaves in plenty of cultural details from his own childhood experiences of the decade to give the book an authentic ’70s feel, but careless typographical errors detract from the reader’s enjoyment and could easily have been avoided with a bit of careful proofreading.
A solid book of dark secrets.