In this supernatural novel, the residents of a Florida suburb challenge a dead killer able to jump between bodies.
Margate, Florida, is a quiet suburb full of good neighbors, clean yards, and safe children. It’s the perfect place for recently deceased serial killer Eli Wickenscholz to wreak havoc from beyond “the veil.” As an entity of pure energy, he’d like to re-enter the physical realm. Doing so means absorbing the dark potential lurking in the average citizen. He begins manipulating some of the residents’ “psychic and sexual energy.” Lexi-Jo Lyman, meanwhile, has moved to Margate to start over. Her past involved dating Kono, a con man. Now she’s hiding from Ghost, the hitman who killed Kono. Elsewhere, Toni Arrigone runs the Heaton Motel and Bar. Toni is sure that the business’ former owners, the Muelensteins, hid “a large sum of money” that they didn’t put in the bank. Other Margate denizens caught in Eli’s trap are young Teddy Millhausen-Jones, who can tell that the sex-crazed adults are “under a spell,” and psychic Cueball Kusiniski, who, along with his daughter, Saige, learns that only a special amulet can keep Eli’s essence within a host body of his choosing. Into the mix comes Det. Kellie Sierra to carve logic from the madness. This thriller by Schimanski (Meter of Redemption, 2017, etc.) and Tiernan (Yield, 2016, etc.) feels like quintessential Florida pulp, right down to the disposal of bodies in the Everglades. The tight narrative moves like an alligator through water, giving an equal jolt of life to numerous quirky characters, including Herbert Duvane, an albino computer repairman. He and Lexi-Jo discuss Kundalini energy, which is “the latent blueprint of all that we are and all we are yet to be.” When Eli’s possessions begin, he picks likely and unlikely hosts, providing satisfying twists, among them the killer’s inability to fully control certain people. Florida’s natural magic doesn’t go unnoticed, as in the line “Teddy was mesmerized by the majestic beauty and the foreboding wilderness of the Everglades.” The finale brings surprising closure to various characters, leaving exciting space for a sequel.
An excellent thriller that dips its toes in waters both sinister and spiritual.