A killer haunts a Texas town full of mysteries in this debut novel.
A string of brutal attacks rocks the isolated community of Glen Haven. Known as the Goatman, thanks to his animal skull mask, the murderer leaves a single survivor of each assault—a group of women who have banded together into a club. These traumatized yet resilient women want revenge and capture the killer during the book’s first chapter. They must now decide whether to turn the Goatman over to the proper authorities or administer their own justice. Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Christoph Edison arrives in town to help Texas Ranger Emmitt Maverick investigate the homicides. The fastidious and intelligent Edison learns that Glen Haven has a history of enigmatic happenings, culminating in a surreal vision of a spectral figure called “Mr. Nobody” at a rural crime scene. The work also tells each survivor’s story in sequences that will be familiar to horror aficionados. Cat Bachman was making a documentary about a witchcraft-tinged murder (her tale is told through found footage watched by Edison). Anne survived a college camping trip loaded with sex and booze; Autumn endured a break-in in the middle of a boathouse party full of teenage relationship drama. Breakfield’s premise is intriguing, but each character’s thread is ultimately swamped by genre references. Teen slasher flicks, The Blair Witch Project, and Twin Peaks are all lovingly imitated, but overall the novel seems content to repeat familiar beats rather than use homages to further build its own story. The players—almost all incredibly good-looking—are not defined much past their “types,” which can render their dialogue awkward and flat. The author’s more original ideas—whether an overarching plot device such as a Survivor’s Club or a simple striking image like an eerie wall of stones with a breathing mouth—are undoubtedly promising. Hopefully, Breakfield will trust his creative instincts in his next outing.
A gruesome slasher story that mainly rests on genre tropes rather than using them to create fully developed characters and scenarios.