The Nightmare Man

Crooked Lane. Jan. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781639101702. $27.99. HORROR
The small town of Crooked Tree is home to Dr. Robert Bookman, a well-known specialist in the field of nightmares, and his grandson, horror novelist Ben Bookman. It’s also where veteran detective Winchester Mills and rookie Samantha Blue investigate a murderer who sews his victims into corn husk cocoons, a crime that mirrors details in Ben’s new book. Now the detectives must find the link between Ben, his grandfather, and the evil plaguing Crooked Tree before another written death becomes real. The town of Crooked Tree is less Stephen King’s bucolic Castle Rock and more a darker version of Batman’s Gotham City, meaning the villains’ acts could easily strain one’s suspension of disbelief. The characters themselves read like archetypes, from the grizzled detective to the quirky, haunted writer. This might be a plus for those fans who love Dean Koontz thrillers, however, as the book’s pacing doesn’t give the reader time to poke at plot holes but lets them simply enjoy the dark ride.
VERDICT Markert’s (Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel, published under the name James Markert) first horror novel is both a literary thrill ride and a supernaturally satisfying guilty pleasure.
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