Posts Tagged ‘foreboding’

The Calling of the Grave

April 18, 2012

nullAuthor:  Simon Beckett

Title:  The Calling of the Grave

Genre:  Suspense, Audiobook

Publication Date:  February 2011

Number of Pages:  336, 9 hrs and 54 mins

Geographical Setting:  England

Time Period:  Eight years ago and present

Series (If applicable):  Dr. David Hunter series (book 4)

Plot Summary:

Eight years ago, forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunter was helping the police attempt to locate the bodies of two teenage girls.  The man who confessed to and was convicted for their murder, Jerome Monk, was brought out of prison in order to help the police locate the burial site.  When Monk’s involvement ends in violence, the search is called off.  In the intervening eight years, David’s life has changed in ways that he couldn’t have imagined, but he’s shocked when the lead investigator in the missing girl’s case shows up on his doorstep to tell him that Jerome Monk has escaped from prison and might be targeting people involved in the previous investigation.  Quickly following that, a call from a woman he briefly met on the investigation eight years prior involves David in a quest to locate the murderer and ensure the safety of himself, Sophie, and anybody else involved in the investigation.  The narrator, Jonathan Keeble, gives the audiobook the appropriate sense of foreboding and helps to drive this suspenseful, fast-paced story to its conclusion.

Subject Headings:

Forensic anthropologists — Fiction.

Murder — Investigation — Fiction.

England — Fiction.

Hunter, David (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Detective and mystery stories.

Serial murder investigation–Fiction.

Appeal:  fast-paced, chilling, darker, menacing atmosphere, plot-centered, violent, straightforward, evocative setting, investigative, plot twists, suspenseful, foreboding, gritty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  fast-paced, suspenseful, violent

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist–William R. Maples:  This book gives the reader insight into the real experiences of a man in the same field as David Hunter.

Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing–Kate Colquhoun:  This true story is a suspenseful murder story set in England, with the extra bonus of historical accuracy.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders–Vincent Bugliosi:  This true crime book describes how Charles Manson made his followers commit murder, the investigation, and the ensuing trials.  This is a gritty, faced-paced book with a menacing tone.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Flesh and Bones—Kathy Reichs:  Like David Hunter, Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist investigating murders in this series of suspenseful, fast-paced novels.

Private—James Patterson:  This is another fast-paced suspense novel, but the investigator in this book is dealing with cold cases, like David Hunter does in this book.

Dead End—Leigh Russell:  Another novel that is a part of a series, this suspense story also takes place in small-town England, features violence against women, and serial killers.

Name:  Amanda

Dead Love

April 4, 2012

Author: Linda Watanabe McFerrin

Title: Dead Love

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 304

Geographical Setting: Tokyo, Haiti, Amsterdam, Malaysia, Singapore

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: Okay, here goes: Eighteen year old dancer Erin Orison (our narrator), a gloomy – but incredibly hot – product of European boarding schools, is summoned to Tokyo by her (evil!) father, also the U.S. Ambassador to Japan (as well as an important cog in the Consortium, an international secret society intent on unleashing supernatural evil upon the world), to appear in a production scripted by a famed Japanese choreographer.  After being somewhat murdered by Ryu, her bodyguard come lover and Yakuza assassin, Erin awakens in a hospital morgue a not-quite zombie, the full transformation having been botched by an unknowing hospital intern.  Erin is now caught in between a human and zombie existence, possessing consciousness and self-will, albeit in a hazy, dream-like state.  Enter Clement, the puppet master behind all these doings.  Clement is a ghoul (a ghoul being an eternal yet formless being that inhabits, and feeds upon, recently deceased corpses) and has been stricken from afar for Erin since she was an infant.  What ensues is a hunt around the globe for Erin (and the microchip inside her body that would unveil the Consortium’s dastardly plans).

Subject Headings:  Zombies, Conspiracies, Supernatural, Dance, Voodoo, Vampires—Dutch, Yakuza, Ghouls, Tokyo, Haiti, Amsterdam, Malaysia, Singapore, Secret societies, Assassination, Manga, Nightclubs, Pursuit.

Appeal:  Dreamlike, surreal, psychedelic, atmospheric, dark, foreboding, otherworldly, melancholy, moody, mystical, nightmare, eccentric, complex, well-crafted, literary, aggressive, brooding, menacing, weary, gloomy, bleak, eerie, ominous, stylish.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Surreal, atmospheric, eerie.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel W. Drezner

A professor of international politics, Drezner attempts to explain different theories on international political systems by supposing the various schools supposed reactions to the world being overrun by zombie hordes.  For instance, how would a realpolitik reaction to zombies differ from, say, a neoconservative one.  Could there be human-zombie alliances for political gain or security?  And would shock and awe be so shocking to the already dead?

The Epic of Kings: Hero Tales of Ancient Persia by Firdausi

This book is suggested by McFerrin in a footnote contained in Dead Love regarding the origins of ghouls.  These myths and legends from the ancient world include ghouls, demons, jinn, and many other supernatural rabble-rousers.

Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting by W. Scott Poole

From colonial times, monsters have always loomed large in American culture.  This compendium examines the various things that have scared our nation senseless over the course of generations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service by Eiji Ōtsuka and Housui Yamazaki

Not only is one of Dead Love’s chapters presented in manga form, the prose does well in evoking the visual moodiness of some supernaturally concerned manga.  In this on-going horror series, a group of students at a Buddhist college, each of whom possesses a special “power”, go into business collecting corpses while acting out the last wishes of the dead.

Thirsty by M.T. Anderson

Chris’s only desire is to be a normal teenager: hang out with friends, pursue his high school crush, etc.. Chris also lives in a world where vampires are hunted down and killed like vermin.  Much like Erin, Chris has embarked on a slow, agonizing descent toward supernatural damnation, this time by way of vampirism.  Much like Clement, Chris has his own other-dimensional puppet-master in Chet the Celestial Being, a servant of a vampire lord.  This book is also hilarious.

Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link

This very highly acclaimed collection of bizarre and humorous short stories includes the likes of zombies, witches, ghosts, superheroes and a whole bevy of supernatural delights.

Name: Bill S.

In the presence of mine enemies

March 28, 2012

Author: Harry Turtledove

Title: In the Presence of Mine Enemies

Genre: Science Fiction (Alternative Histories)

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 454p.

Geographical Setting: Berlin*

Time Period: Present-day (-ish)*

*In the Presence of My Enemies is a work of fictional alternate history wherein Germany has won the 2nd and 3rd World Wars (the 3rd resulting in the nuclear destruction of all significant American cities, and a new capital in Omaha, in case you were wondering about the home team) and has exterminated (to their satisfaction, at least—think slave labor) the world’s population of Slavs, Jews, Blacks, and a plethora of other racial, ethnic, and nationalist groups.  They are cozy with the Japanese Empire.

Series (If applicable): Not yet.

Plot Summary:  A small community of Jews, loosely allied by family and friendship, struggle to raise families, work, continue the Jewish faith, and survive clandestinely in “present day” Berlin as good “Germans” alongside their unknowing, yet legitimately Aryan, German friends and colleagues.  Adding to their many daily trials, the Reich has been hurled into a new and uncertain direction toward “reform” that leaves the Empire, and especially Berlin, in a heightened state of political and national unrest, boldness, and uncertainty, by the appointment of a progressive new Fuhrer and the political emergence of an enigmatic Party rabble-rouser (think Gorbachev and Yeltsin!).

Subject Headings: Nazi Party (Germany), Jews—German, World War 2, 21st century, Jewish families, Middle class families, Secrets, Secret identity, Identity (Psychology), Political upheaval, Political demonstration, Secret police, Police state, Fascism, Adolf Hitler, Revenge, Genetics, Germany—Politics and government, Genocide, Adultery.

Appeal: plot-driven, dark, surreal, steady, bleak, candid, claustrophobic, foreboding, melancholy, menacing atmosphere, paranoid, suspenseful, detailed, authentic, imaginative, intense, tense/anxious, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, political, urban, concise, straightforward, ominous.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: plot-driven, dark, thought-provoking.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

While the suggestion of reading this book might seem as appealing to a reader as stabbing themselves in the eye with a fork, it does merit consideration as Turtledove’s Nazi Empire is wholly dependent on it as both their Constitution and their Bible.  While the plot line of radical reformists calling for adherence to the more democratic-minded first edition of Mein Kampf in order to extend freedoms, liberties, and self-determination to the citizens and conquered nations of the Reich is clever and ironic, the real shivers happen as it becomes clear that Hitler has achieved God-like infallibility and reverence in Turtledove’s nightmare world.

What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany by Eric A. Johnson

Can genocide become an everyday facet of society? Apparently so, the author would argue.  Over 3,000 Germans of the era (Jews and non-Jews, victims and perpetrators) took part in the research for this book.  The conclusion: the average German lived not in fear of the Gestapo or anything else for most of Hitler’s reign, but existed rather comfortably and prosperous.  The estimated 1/3 of Germany that knew of what was happening in the concentration camps, chose to ignore what was going on in their backyards, as well as those citizens that knew of the extermination through rumor.  By the time of Turtledove’s Reich, the extermination of millions (billions?) of people around the globe is viewed simply as historical fact and a privilege of the victors.  This book is a well-deserved kidney punch to German ambiguity and nostalgia when it comes to the pre-War years, as well as to those who think a movement like the Nazis could never threaten the globe again.

Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany by Marion A. Kaplan

This book attempts to answer the age-old question of why the Jews didn’t leave Nazi Germany en masse.  The author uses interviews, diaries, letters, and other first person accounts to portray a Jewish population as confused as they were frightened as the Nazis slowly stole freedom and property until they were trapped in a hostile country, completely deprived and isolated.  This book puts the machinations of genocide into motion with enough momentum to be a fully realized institution for the Jewish families in “Presence”, who know fully well any disclosure of their true identities would result in immediate execution.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Legendary and iconic sci-fi author Dick gives his version of a world in which the Germans and Japanese won the 2nd World War.  Almost a companion piece to In the Presence of Mine Enemies in depicting the goings-on on the other side of the globe, Dick portrays a 1960’s United States that is German-Japanese occupied and has reinstated slavery.  What few Jews who survived live hidden under the cloak of assumed identities.  Sound familiar?

1945: A Novel by Robert Conroy

This is another WW2 based alternate history.  The twist here is that instead of surrendering after the dropping of the atomic bombs, military extremists assume control of the nation, vowing never to surrender.  The ensuing U.S. invasion of the home island unleashes death and carnage in apocalyptic proportion.  This is all the more disturbing given the fact that in reality the Emperor being deposed in a coup by hardline generals vowing to fight to the last man, woman, and child was a very real possibility, narrowly escaped.

Into the Storm: Destroyermen, Book One by Taylor Anderson.

Again, WW2 is the stepping off point for this first book in an on-going series.  In the heat of battle the bloodies and battered destroyer USS Walker seeks escape from faster, deadlier Japanese boats by heading directly into a massive, otherworldly looking squall.  As the storm subsides, the Captain and colorful crew notice that while geographically things look familiar, everything else in the parallel Earth they find themselves trapped in is very, very different.  In no time at all, Walker is tossed into the middle of a genocidal (and carnivorous) war begun by the Grik (human sized vicious, but mindless, lizards) against the Lemurians (human sized noble and peace-loving lemurs).  As this New Earth is technologically somewhere in the 18th century, the allegiance, modern armament, and know-how of Walker and its crew may prove decisive to the fate of this world.

Name: Bill S.

Sophie’s Choice

March 21, 2012

Author: William Styron

Title: Sophie’s Choice

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1979

Number of Pages: 562

Geographical Setting: Brooklyn, New York

Time Period: Post World War II (1947)

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: The story begins when Stingo, a young southerner and struggling author, moves North in an attempt to write the next great American novel.  Upon arrival, he quickly finds himself emotionally and intellectually involved in the tumultuous and often abusive relationship of his neighbors, Nathan and Sophie.  Nathan, a brilliant but manic-depressive man with a very dark side, shortly becomes like a brother to Stingo.  However, things get messy when Stingo finds himself falling for the beautiful Sophie, a young Polish woman with a terrible secret.  When Stingo notices the tattoo of a concentration camp on the arm of Sophie, this philosophical and emotional novel starts to bounce between past and present, as Sophie begins to tell Stingo the story of her tortured past.

Subject Headings: Authors, American; Concentration Camp Survivors;  Dating Violence;  Guilt in Women;  Jealousy in Men;  Jewish Men;  Men/Women Relations;  Suicide Pacts;   Triangles (Interpersonal Relations);  Women Holocaust Survivors.

Appeal: Engrossing, Contemplative, Foreboding, Detailed, Haunting, Bleak, Tragic, Sympathetic, Well-Developed, Character-Centered, Passionate, Emotional

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: Haunting, Tragic, Passionate

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:
Five Chimneys: The Story of Auschwitz (by Olga Lengyel): This memoir provides one woman’s unflinching account of life in Auschwitz- Birkenau.  Lengyel offers readers unbelievable and shocking descriptions of the daily horrors of life in the most famous concentration camp.  Readers who were interested in the historical aspect of Sophie’s Choice will enjoy this read.

Free Yourself From an Abusive Relationship (by Andrea Lissette & Richard Kraus): This work is a guide to recognizing and dealing with abusive relationships.  The work focuses on various stages of domestic abuse and violence, and how to change these relationships or break them off for good.  Readers who were interested in, or identified with, Nathan and Sophie’s abusive relationship might be interested in this read.

How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead:  Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights (by Ariel Gore):  Written by a writer, teacher, and ‘self-made lit-star,’ this book is a fun and useful guide on how to become an accomplished writer.  Combining writing advice with self-promotion and marketing techniques, the aim of this work is to help you achieve the literary success you always dreamed of.  Readers who identify with Stingo’s plight as a struggling author may enjoy this read.

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

The Other Side of the Bridge (by Mary Lawson): This compelling and character-driven novel tells the story of a classic love triangle. Set in Canada in the 1950s, follow Arthur and Jake Dunn as their relationship takes a turn for the worse when they both fall in love with the same beautiful young woman.  Readers who enjoyed the love triangle aspect of Sophie’s Choice would likely enjoy this novel.

Chain of Love (by Anne Stuart): Recovering from an abusive relationship, Cathy Whiteheart has sworn off men completely.  However, when an attractive man begins to pursue her, she finds herself on a romantic journey.  The situation, however, may unravel when her disturbing secret is discovered.  Readers may enjoy this if they were caught up in Sophie’s struggle as an abused girlfriend, as well as her burdensome secret.

Fatelessness (by Imre Kertesz): This historical novel, told through the eyes of a fourteen-year old boy, recounts the daily life of prisoners at Auschwitz.  The boy, placed on a train to Auschwitz for no apparent reason, attempts to make sense of his surroundings as he witnesses countless horrors.  Readers who were interested in the historical aspect of Sophie’s Choice will enjoy this work of fiction.

Sacred Stone

February 23, 2012

Author: Clive Cussler (and Craig Dirgo)

Title: Sacred Stone

Genre: Adventure

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 406

Geographical Setting: Greenland, Iceland, United States, Europe, High Seas

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): The Oregon Files

Plot Summary:  A 50,000 year-old radioactive meteorite has just been unearthed in the remotest reaches of Greenland by a clandestine archeological team.  When the team is murdered and the meteorite goes missing, it’s time to call the Corporation.  Headed up by the enigmatic and fearless Juan Cabrillo, the Corporation is made up of two dozen or so of the most highly skilled individuals ever to have come out of the military, intelligence, and special-ops communities.  Disguised as a rusty cargo ship, the Oregon serves as the super high-tech floating command center for the group.  When governments around the globe encounter threats too advanced or sinister for their own people to handle, much less their citizenry to ever find out about, it’s the Corporation that gets the call.  In tracking down the meteorite, Cabrillo and his crew discover and must attempt to thwart not only a plot to reduce Western cities to radioactive rubble, but also a scheme to eradicate Islam from the face of the earth by way of poisoned prayer rugs.  A breakneck race against the clock ensues as the Corporation must call upon their every resource, as well as every bit of luck, in order to stop annihilation on a global scale.

Subject Headings: Terrorism – Prevention; Relics; Mercenary troops; Ship captains; Meteorites; Greenland; Suspense fiction; Erik the Red; Elton John.

Appeal: colorful, concise, straightforward, fast-paced, dangerous, dramatic, earnest, foreboding, menacing, intense, action-oriented, layered, conclusive, violent, contemporary, provocative, confident, confrontational, clandestine, energetic, swaggering, tense, urgent, volatile.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: action-oriented,

straightforward, fast-paced.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Ranulph Fiennes.

Fiennes “recounts his exploits as an explorer-adventurer, including traveling the Nile in a Hovercraft, four thousand miles of wild river journey in Alaska and Canada, and an overland trek to the North Pole” (Novelist), and that’s just a warm-up in a remarkable life filled with a remarkable number of near death escapes.  This work would do well with the reader enamored by the self-sufficient and ever resourceful adventurer character Cussler seems fond of placing in his novels (and probably thinks himself along those lines as well).

Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda by Robert Wallace H. Keith Melton, Henry R. Schlesinger and George J. Tenet.

This title is a collection of some of the harrowing and clandestine operations embarked upon by the CIA since the beginning of the Cold War, and also of the high-tech espionage tools and weapons invented to help agents to live to spy another day.  Spycraft would have wide appeal for any Adventure fan but especially with Cussler’s legions, what with his love of Bond-ish high-tech gadgetry.

SEAL Team Six by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin.

These are the guys who killed Bin Laden, rescued those people from the Somali pirates, and seem to be the go-to guys anytime the US government needs anyone saved, dead, or captured.  Wasdin was a Team Six sniper and gives a rare insider’s view into the grueling training and harrowing and deadly missions of this elite squad.  If Juan Cabrillo and the Corporation were real (and hopefully they aren’t) they would be rife with former Team Six people.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

By Order of the President by W.E.B. Griffin

At the behest of the President, Special Forces Major Carlos Castillo assembles a secret team of operatives to investigate a missing airliner in this terse, fast-paced action thriller.  Big appeal is here for the reader who enjoyed the more militaristic aspects and machinations of the Corporation and Sacred Stone.  Fans of the Dirty Dozen/Magnificent Seven archetype of every person in the gang having a special skill (like the Corporation) would like this as well.  This is the first book in a series.

Jaws by Peter Benchley

As Cussler’s novels all seem to be water-bourn in some manner, it would seem a natural choice to suggest the granddaddy of aquatic adventure and danger and his masterwork.

The Lion by Nelson DeMille

Former NYPD detective John Corey is now a special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and must track down a notorious Libyan terrorist hell-bent on murder and destruction.  Another natural choice for Cussler fans, this time in line more with the anti-terrorism aspects of Sacred Stone.  This is also part of a series.

Name: Bill S.

The Andromeda Strain

February 22, 2012

Author:  Michael Crichton

Title:  The Andromeda Strain

Genre:  techno thriller, medical suspense, science fiction

Publication Date:  1969

Number of Pages:  285

Geographical Setting:  Arizona

Time Period:  Late 1960s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  When a government satellite lands in a small Arizona town killing all but two people, a team of four scientists are called upon to investigate the extraterrestrial virus that entered the earth’s atmosphere with the satellite.  From a top-secret military base in Nevada, they work to identify the virus, discover similarities between the two survivors, and find a cure before the virus causes millions to perish.   Maps, computer data, and details of microbiology sprinkled throughout the novel, add a feel of authenticity to this techno thriller that will both frighten and inform the reader.

Subject Headings:  Viruses, Microbiology, Extraterrestrial Life, Satellites, Medical Suspense, Medical Technology

Appeal:  fast-paced, suspenseful, foreboding, dramatic, cinematic, investigative, plot-centered, informative, jargon-filled, well-researched, accurate, details of microbiology

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  suspenseful, investigative, plot-centered

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Coming Plague:  Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett- The Coming Plague examines the outbreak of recent diseases and what can be done to preclude new plagues.  Both The Andromeda Strain and The Coming Plague have viruses as a main topic

First Contact:  Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth by Marc Kaufman- Using recent scientific research, Kaufman provides evidence for the probable existence of extraterrestrial life. First Contact will appeal to readers interested in the extraterrestrial microorganisms in The Andromeda Strain.

Virus Hunter:  Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World by C.J. Peters- A top official at the CDC recounts his career battling viruses.  Virus Hunter will appeal to those readers who enjoyed the individual experiences of the doctors in The Andromeda Strain.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

The Cobra Event by Richard Preston- Government officials attempt to stop a scientist who uses a new virus to depopulate the human race.  Both The Andromeda Strain and The Cobra Event are fast-paced, jargon-filled, medical suspense novels about viruses.

The Hades Factor by Robert Ludlum- An army virologist works to identify and cure an unknown virus before millions perish.  Like The Andromeda Strain, The Hades Factor is a fast-paced, medical suspense novel that deals with viruses.

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card- A virologist works to stop a geneticist who is altering human DNA for evil purposes.  Like The Andromeda Strain, Invasive Procedures is a fast-paced, medical suspense novel dealing with a virus and a top-secret agency.

Elissa

A Dark Matter

October 26, 2011

Author: Peter Straub

Title:  A Dark Matter

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: February 9, 2010

Number of Pages:  Audio Edition (I-Pod) 12 parts; 14 hours 33 minutes

Narrator: Robertson Dean

Geographical Setting: Madison, WI and Chicago, IL

Time Period:  1966 and present day

Series (If applicable): A companion work called The Skylark told from the point of view of Spenser Mallon.

Plot Summary: Four High School students fall under the spell of a charismatic wandering guru, Spenser Mallon, and join him in performing a spiritual ritual in the agronomy meadow of the University of Wisconsin.  During this ceremony something supernatural happens, the participants see things and feel things that are indescribable.  The ritual also leaves one kid dead.  That was in 1966.   Several decades later, Lee Harwell is searching for answers as to what happened that fateful day in the meadow.  He was not involved in the ritual, but his three friends were, along with the woman who would become his wife, Lee Traux (The Eel).  Lee Harwell attempts to track down his old friends, Don Olsen (Dilly), Howard Bly (Hootie) and Jason Boatman (Boats), and in doing so each recounts their experience in the meadow, offering many different versions of the same event.  All involved in the ill-fated event were greatly affected in some way or another.  A Dark Matter is a creepy, psychologically suspenseful story that will leave the reader wondering what really happened in the meadow until the last page.

Subject Headings: The sixties; occult ceremonies; supernatural rites, teenagers, good vs. evil; psychic trauma; Bram Stoker Award Winners

Appeal: character-centered, intricately plotted, relaxed pace, bleak, creepy, psychological, supernatural, complex storyline, literary prose, multiple points of view, detailed, foreboding

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character-centered, psychological, foreboding

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     Helter Skelter: the True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi – Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Charles Manson murder trial.  His position as an insider has allowed him to give a unique perspective on one of the most notorious killers in American history. Charles Manson was a charismatic “cult” leader.  He lured both men and women into this “family” and he had a baffling hold on his followers.  In 1969 Manson and 4 of his followers carried out several murders of seemingly random victims.  It continues to be one of the most famous crimes and trials in American History.  Chosen as a non-fiction read-alike for A Dark Matter because the charismatic wandering guru Spencer Mallon is similar to Mason, luring young people in with his ideas and personality.

2)     The Tibetan Book of the Dead by Padma Sambhava and translated by Robert Thurman – Said to have been written in the 8th century A.D. by Padma Sambhava who is also said to have been the first person to bring Buddhism to Tibet.  The book is a guide for the dead to guide them through the stages the will encounter between death and their rebirth.  Basically the soul needs guidance once it leaves the physical body and this book is a guide.  It contains prayers and ways the living can assist the dead.  In A Dark Matter the Tibetan Book of the Dead is mentioned on several occasions by the guru Spencer Mallon, so perhaps readers of the novel would enjoy this non-fiction work to learn more.

3)     The New Encyclopedia of the Occult by John Michael Greer – John Michael Greer is an “occult practitioner” who consulted scholarly text in order to write a well researched, informative encyclopedia of occult traditions, lore, etc.  Included are 1500 entries listed in alphabetical order and include spiritual movements, magic, alchemy, and astrology.  Chosen as a read-alike for A Dark Matter because the ceremony the teenagers and guru perform in the meadow is an occult ceremony and readers of the novel may appreciate learning more about the occult and all of its aspects.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     I’ll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates – A nameless white girl at a fictional college falls for an African-American grad student in this character-centered work set in the 1960’s.  There is, of course, the racial tension one would expect from an inter-racial relationship at the time.  Along with the social backlash, the girl is also haunted by the fact that someone she once thought was dead is actually alive.  Similar to A Dark Matter in that it is set in the 1960’s and involves college students.  (creepy, psychological suspense, character-centered)

2)     The Revelation by Bentley Little – This creepy story in a small town in Arizona, where events seemingly signal a looming apocalypse.  The church is desecrated, animals are being sacrificed and people are disappearing.  A new Episcopal Priest comes to town and enlists the help of three others as he believes only the four of them can save the town from the evil.  Similar to A Dark Matter this novel has supernatural elements and an underlying theme of good versus evil. (creepy, menacing, supernatural)

3)     Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King – A collection of five short stories that are linked to each other and revolve around events that occurred in the 1960’s.  The Vietnam War is at the forefront of the creepy tales that include some supernatural elements, which makes this story similar to A Dark Matter.  Other similarities include a 1960’s setting and having interweaving stories told by several individuals. (creepy, suspenseful, character-centered)

Name: Michelle Worthington

Little Girl Lost

October 12, 2011

Author: Richard Aleas

Title: Little Girl Lost

Genre:Mystery

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 221

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: followed by Songs of Innocence.

Plot Summary:

John Blake is a PI, but not the Mike Hammer/Raymond Chandler tough-guy sort. Instead, he’s an English major who couldn’t find a better gig and now he’s a desk-bound detective, doing all his investigating from the safety of an office and an Ethernet connection. All that changes one day when he reads the paper to find out Miranda, his high school girlfriend who he’s not seen in ten years is dead. Murdered. On the roof of the strip club where she worked, not living the quiet suburban life he imagined for her. As he digs deeper he ends up hunted by the police and by a mob boss and his men, while trying to uncover what happened to Miranda and her now-missing best friend Jocelyn.

Subject Headings: Detectives, murder mystery, strip clubs,

Appeal: character-driven, gritty, intricately plotted, plot twists, fatalistic, fast-paced, flawed character, open-ended, urban, action-oriented, bleak, foreboding

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: gritty, character-driven, fast-paced

 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Chandler, Raymond. The Simple Art of Murder. This collection of Chandler’s short story work is recommended for the non-fiction titular essay that leads off the collection, wherein Chandler describes the noir or hardboiled mystery and expectations, some which Aleas intentionally subverts.

Cody, Diablo. Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper. Diablo Cody, writer of Juno, details a year in her life working as a stripper, including the seedy underbelly of the industry.

Hirsch, Foster. The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir. Readers of hardboiled mysteries tend to love noir, and this is the most well-known guide to film noir, detailing common character traits, recurring plot-threads, and the visuals that make film noir so distinctive.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Block, Lawrence. Grifter’s Game. oth are pulps, although Block’s focuses on the conman as lead character. Both contain fatalistic endings where the lead’s morality is put on trial, and the final pages leave the reader shocked.

Faust, Christa. Money Shot. Both are contemporary noir-pulp; Faust’s book has a female heroine caught in the world of pornography, Aleas’ male lead is entrenched in strip clubs. Both cases are extremely personal.

Hammett, Dashiel. The Maltese Falcon. Both are hardboiled mysteries where the lead character, in the course of a murder investigation, must temporarily have a truce with an apparent mob boss.

Name: Brian C.

The Water’s Edge by Karin Fossum

October 12, 2011

Author: Karin Fossum

Title: The Water’s Edge

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 227

Geographical Setting: Norway

Time Period: present

Series: 6th in the Inspector Sejer series

Plot Summary:  In Fossum’s haunting sixth novel featuring Inspector Sejer, Ris and Kristine Reihhardt are out for a quiet walk on a Sunday afternoon when they stumble on the body of a young boy left in a pile of leaves.  They also have happened to see a man with a limp walking out of the woods and to his car just minutes before.  Is this man with a white car and a distinct look the killer?  After finding the boy, the couple’s relationship is tested as Ris becomes more and more obsessed by the case while Kristine is disgusted by his morbid fascination.  As Inspector Sejer and his young partner, Jacob Skaar, begin interviewing townspeople, the stark beauty of Norway comes alive and the nature of the tight-knit community is revealed.  Before long, another young boy has gone missing, leaving the entire town edgy, terrified and suspicious of each other.  This time, however, the boy has some serious problems of his own in relation to his single mother that may complicate the case.  With haunting, poetic prose Fossum tells the dark, twisted story through the eyes of the Reinhardts, the killer, and the investigators as the chase down the elusive murderer. This novel is satisfying on many levels; first as an intriguing police procedural, second as a character-centered novel that gets into the minds of many characters, and lastly as a musing on human nature and the meaning of good and evil.

Subject Headings: crimes against children, grief, marriage, murder, murder investigation. Konrad Sejer

 

Appeal: chilling, haunting, atmospheric, character-centered, dark, elegant, compelling, engrossing, intense, bleak, contemplative, evocative, foreboding, psychological, suspenseful, sophisticated, multiple plots, investigative, start, rural, poetic, well crafted, police procedural

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: chilling, atmospheric, character-centered

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Staalesen, Gunnar, The Consorts of Death.  Like The Water’s Edge, this is a police procedural mystery that also takes place in Norway and features a young boy who is connected to a murder.

Holt, Anne, What is Mine.  This novel features a Norwegian police commissioner who leads a murder investigation of the murder of several young children.  Fans of Fossum will enjoy the characterization as the main characters attempt to get inside the minds of the criminals.  Like The Water’s Edge, this is an engrossing mystery with several plot twists.

Edwardson, Ake, Frozen Tracks.  Like The Water’s Edge, this is a haunting police procedural from a Scandinavian writer in which two crimes are connected.  Also like Fossum’s novel, this book features multiple plot lines, one of which gets inside the mind of the criminal.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Holt, Elizabeth, Living in Norway.  This picture book shoes the beautiful landscape of Norway and also talks about the history of the country and the unique character of the Norwegian people.  Fans of Norwegian writers may be interested in learning more about and seeing a visual representation of the setting and landscape that is so important to these mysteries.

Amy Hammel-Zaban, Conversations with a Pedophile, in the Interest of our Children. The Water’s Edge seeks to get in the mind of a pedophile to better understand the affliction and try to show the abuse that occurs early in life which often turns people into pedophiles.  It also features an important scene in which the detectives are interviewing a known pedophile who gives them some vital information.  This book would be helpful for those who wish to gain a better understanding of this affliction after reading this novel.  Like the novel, it also features a first person account of a pedophile.

Rangle, Larry, Crime Scene: From Fingerprinting to DNA Testing- An Astonishing Look at the Real World of CSIThe Water’s Edge features multiple scenes of crime scene investigation and the crime is also eventually solved using forensic evidence.  This book would be great for readers who are interested in learning more of the forensic aspect of the police procedural.

Name: Meghan Maleski

Legends of Shannara: Bearers of the Black Staff

September 28, 2011

Author: Terry Brooks

Title: Bearers of the Black Staff

Genre: Fantasy fiction

Publication Date: August 24, 2010

Number of Pages: 353 pages (audio – 12 CDs)

Geographical Setting: A mythical, protected valley called Shannara.

Time Period: Post Apocalyptic

Series: Legends of Shannara

Plot Summary: In a valley protected by magical mists and a loner, Sider Ament, two young trackers find that demons have breached their valley and killed innocent trackers.  Sider is the only surviving member of the Knights of the Word and the Bearer of the Black staff.  He and the trackers seek to warn the inhabitants of the valley- humans, elves, lizards and spiders.  In doing so, they put themselves in danger from those who believe that the failure of the mists means the second coming of their God.  This forces them to seek help from other species in order to protect the impending demon invasion. They join with an Elven cast of characters and other humans to defend their valley. In their quest they encounter duplicitous royalty, demons, and the religious, who are on their own quest for power.  Sider Ament’s personal quest is to find a worthy successor to bear the black staff. The audio book is narrated by Phil Gigante, who is known for his ability to do characterizations. Listening to the audio version brings all of these characters to life.

Subject Headings: Refugees; Survival; Magic; Trolls; Knights and Knighthood; Magic sticks; Good and evil; Shannara (Imaginary place)
Appeal: reflective, fast-paced, engrossing, compelling, dangerous, foreboding, heartwarming, optimistic, flawed but memorable characters, well-developed, multiple plot lines, mystical, world building, nostalgic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heroic, richly detailed, strong sense of place.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Tolkien & C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship by Colin Duriez. A commentary on the friendship and the inspiration for each authors’ fantasy works, including their spiritual beliefs.

2) Tales from a Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien.  A collection of short fantasy novellas and poetry with illustrations.

3) The Mythical Creatures Bible: The Definitive Guide to Legendary Beings by Brenda Rosen. Illustrations and history of the origins of mythical creatures and their basis in reality.

 

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Dragons of Autumn Twilight (DragonLance saga) by Margaret Weis. A world-building and fast-paced work including themes of good and evil with magic wielding creatures and humans.

2) Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters Fantasies) by Juliet Marillier.  These stories have young heroes/heroines that are noble, but sometimes behave badly.  They learn from their experiences and sometimes are fighting religious battles.

3) The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan. This series is chosen for the story of unlikely heroes banding together with other species to go on a dangerous quest in order to defeat evil.

Name:Cheryl R.