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IntoTheMacabre

Resurrection - Tim Curran

Resurrection: Zombie Epic - Tim Curran

The rain kept falling and falling and falling...and like the rain, the story kept going and going and...well, you get the idea. This one ran the gamut with me, good and bad. Resurrection is listed as a Zombie Epic and you better believe it when they say epic. The problem was that it was too epic. You may wonder, "is that even possible?"and the answer is yes. Resurrection needed editing in the worst way. It suffers from a bloated mass of verbiage. If an editor had come along and slashed a good 300 pages from this tome, the story would've been a much tighter and fun read. Now, don't get me wrong. There is some really good stuff in Resurrection, but the reader was constantly assaulted by the same descriptions of the constant rain falling and the smell of the zombies. I bet the reference to something being "putrid" was used at least 50 times. After a while, it begins to feel like you've read it before and you want to scream "I get it! They fucking stunk to high heaven. Now get on with the damn story!!" The other thing that kept becoming a sore spot with Resurrection was all of the grammatical errors. Usually, I'm pretty forgiving for a misspelled word here and awkward sentence structure there. If you've ever read any of my reviews, I can be a little light on the proofreading at times. But, this was so often that it became quite distracting. So, yes, an editor was sorely needed for Resurrection.

 

OK. Let's get on with the review. In the river valley of a small Wisconsin town, it begins to rain endlessly for days on end. Within this rainy period, there comes a few mysterious showers that are yellow and anyone that gets caught in the dreaded yellow rains gets eaten away and dissolved as if it was pure hydrochloride acid. With the endless torrential rains, the river breaks its banks and the town is flooded. So much so, that the local graveyard, located on a hill, is washed away like a sand castle during high tide. And wouldn't you know it, there's something about the rain that makes all of those people, that have been laid to rest, get up and start coming after the town folks that haven't evacuated the flooded city. Enter our likable heroes, Mitch and Tommy. A couple of regular Joes that you instantly feel like you know. Mitch is looking for his daughter, Chrissy, who went off to the mall and hasn't come home yet. As you can imagine, the shit hits the fan and the zombies start doing what zombies do. But Curran's zombies are a little bit different. There are some that are mindless killers, while others seem to have some intelligence (and speed). Another trait that I liked was that bullets to the head didn't take these guys out, but they discover that salt does. Kinda cool. It also seems that our heroes figure that the explosion at the nearby military base is responsible for all the mayhem. Now it's up to Mitch and Tommy to save the town.

 

Resurrection has some great ideas inside it. Curran knows how to develop realistic characters that are easily identifiable. Along the way, Resurrection felt quite a bit like the bastard child of Stephen King's It and The Stand. The biological weapon gone wrong and threatening to destroy mankind. Also, the main antagonist was an evil clown that I couldn't help but compare with Pennywise. How could you not? One more thing - the salt. Our heros discover that salt is the key to killing the walking dead, not guns. So, you'd think they'd be smart and use what works. Nope. They kept shooting and blasting away throughout the story even though they knew that guns were pretty much ineffective. Again, I had a hard time not screaming at the pages when I would read this. Use the damn salt, you dumbasses!

 

So, to paraphrase Dickens, It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. And that's pretty much Resurrection in a nutshell. There's some really good stuff, but oh what it could've been if only there was an editor.

 

 

3 putrid corpses out of 5

 


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Chasing Ghosts - Glenn Rolfe

Chasing Ghosts - Glenn Rolfe

Jason and Davey invite the new kid in town, Luke, to hang out and participate in a little game they call "Chasing Ghosts". On a dare, they ride their bikes way out to the old Cobb place. The Cobb's were a bunch of backwoods inbreds that either died off or left town. At least, that's what the rumor was. What they find is a little than trouble for trespassing. Near there, a band is setting up to play a party at a rented cabin. They were only looking to score some quick cash for playing and having a good time. When the intoxicated lead singer wanders off, the rest of the band are led into the woods to find him. They'll wish they stayed back in the cabin.

 

When I look at Glenn Rolfe's body of work through the last few years, it makes me smile to see such a talented writer mature in front of our very eyes. With Chasing Ghosts, that trend keeps climbing ever higher. With shades of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, Rolfe also summons his inner-Laymon and, in my opinion, outdoes what his predecessor couldn't do. Now before you start rounding up the villagers and handing out pitchforks and torches, let me explain. My complaint with Laymon is that his stories attempted to capture that B-movie magic and fun. The problem has always been that everything that I've read by him falls short. A good story, whether it be on the silver screen or written page, has to have good, realistic characters that you care about. To me, Laymon's characters always felt like cardboard cutouts that became cannon fodder when they behaved unrealistically, their dialogue was borderline moronic, and the whole thing seemed hokie. With Chasing Ghosts, the characters feel like people that we already know facing problems that you can honestly believe - a missing son, infidelity, working stiffs looking to blow off some steam on the weekend. It's all there and done very well by Rolfe. If I have a complaint with the story, it's that the dialogue can be a tad confusing by his lack of identifying who is doing the talking from time to time. Again, it's a minor complaint, but I do think it would help the story. Other than that, I dig it. Now, does he break any new ground with Chasing Ghosts? No. But, I don't think that was ever his intent. What he does is deliver one kickass tale of backwoods bumpkins gone wrong.

 

 

4 Billy Bob teeth sunk into your leg out of 5

 


* This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review

 


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In Perpetuity - Tim Lebbon

In Perpetuity - Tim Lebbon

The latest from Tim Lebbon, In Perpetuity, is a murky fantasy tale cloaked with shades of horror. A father and his son, Sammy, enter a strange store that they've never seen before. Inside, Sammy is taken away by a man that goes by the moniker, The Keeper, and demands that the father go out and find him proof of love, if he ever wants his son back. The Keeper has a strange collection in his mysterious store - a saber-toothed tiger pacing in a cage, Kennedy's smashed skull, Hitler's testicle, etc - and he want to add to it by forcing people to go out and bring him whatever rare oddity he desires.

 

In what sounds like a promising premise, is anything but. In a feigned attempt at trying to create a profound story about how a father's love knows no boundaries when it comes to saving his son, Lebbon delivers a half-baked fantasy tale that comes across as muddy, unclear, and hard to swallow. On top of it all, this one needs some serious editing because there are grammatical errors all over the place. I've enjoyed other Lebbon stories. Unfortunately, I can't put In Perpetuity among them.

 

 

2 Green Men out of 5

 


* I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

 

 


You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

 

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Charnel House - Graham Masterton

Charnel House - Graham Masterton

John Hyatt works for the Dept of Sanitation in San Francisco. One day, an older gentleman comes in with an unusual complaint - his house is breathing. Breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Hyatt wants to write the guy off as a kook, but there's something about his demeanor that tugs at his heart making him feel sorry for him. So, he decides to stop by his house after work to check out this mysterious breathing sound with his engineer friend in tow. At first, nothing happens. Then there's the sound and yes, it does sound like breathing. John doesn't believe in any of this hocus pocus and is convinced that the sound is a practical joke. When he attempts to confront the responsible party for the breathing sound, a blast of energy hits the room like a bomb. What happens next is the beginning of mysterious events that lead John to seek the help of an old Indian medicine man that might know a thing or two about what the heck is going on.

 

Charnel House is a fun read that actually ages well (It was originally written in 1978). Yes, there a few times during the course of reading the book that you kind of roll your eyes and chuckle - doctors smoking and drinking in their hospital office, a couple borderline sexist remarks by the male characters, attempting to call someone in the days of no cell phones or voice mail, etc. But, those are very minor and Charnel House has a nice creepy atmosphere with extremely good visuals and character development. The final scenes are a tad bland and slightly formulaic, but remember that this was the late 1970s. A very solid read and worth picking up.

 

 

4 evil coyotes out of 5

 

 

This ARC was provided my NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

 

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Sleep Paralysis - Patrick Lacey

Sleep Paralysis - Patrick Lacey

 

Worm Garden -

What would you cause you to feel more guilty - sleeping with your best friend's girlfriend behind his back or taking him to a sacrificial altar on a ghost hunting trip?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Operation Parasite -

Conspiracy theorists. Manny is one. Is he onto something or is he a dangerous whack job?

4 out of 5 stars


Pen Pals -

Who's on the other end of those pen pal letters? That's what James is afraid to know. Great Twilight Zone-ish tale!

5 out of 5 stars


Drowning in Filth -

The next time you're flipping the channels and you see a show about hoarders, you might think twice that it couldn't happen to you. Excellent creepy-crawly tale.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Lost and Found -

A stuttering boy finds strength from the body of a murdered girl. A little too thin of a plot and more questions than answers for me.

3 out of 5 stars

 

First Bell -

A survivor of a high school shooting can see the ghosts of that horrific day a he relives it over and over. More like a victim having a flashback than a real story.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Send Your End -

A website called Send Your End where people send in video of them killing themselves is addicting to high school senior, Marissa. She tries to enlist her favorite teacher into helping her. But some things are beyond our control.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


The Lynnwood Vampires -

If the high school kids in your small town start dressing all in black, dye their hair black, bleach their skin and get numerous face piercings, it may not just be a goth phase. Great storyline and character development make this one a fun read.

5 out of 5 stars


Norton -

Ritchie's daughter, Veronica, finds a beat up stuffed bunny outside of a burger joint and wants to take it home. Ritchie agrees out of feeling guilty that his wife has recently left him and Veronica. She names the bunny Norton. Oh the things Norton can do. With shades of Chucky from Child's Play, Norton was a good story that could've benefitted from not ending so abruptly.

4 out of 5 stars


Cold Call -

A struggling single mother gets a telemarketing call like no other. Make sure, when you're walking home with your friends from the bar and complaining about your life, that you don't offer to sell your soul for a better life. You just might be heard.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Bad Egg -

A woman who can't have children is raped by a reptilian-like creature. How bad does she want to have a child?

3 out of 5 stars

 

Critter Marrow -

Odd sounding name in an odd SPAM email that Gary can't seem to delete from the company email. What do you do with a haunting email that you can't delete?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Last Words -

How well do we know our family? Everyone has two sides. One is who you really are and the other is what you show other people. Are you sure you know who your father really was? Great story about how we think we know our families only to find a hidden side and what would you do with that knowledge.

5 out of 5 stars

 

The Boss -

No one rarely sees the boss of the grimy fast food dive that Perkins is sitting at. When a drunk customer complains about her food and demands to see the boss, she quickly understands why.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Mrs. Alto's Garden -

Death makes the best fertilizer. At least that's what Mrs. Alto says. An enjoyable story that has shades of Charles L. Grant and H.P. Lovecraft.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Big Bertha -

Big Bertha is one of those older arcade games where you throw balls into her cavernous mouth while cheesy carnival music plays as she's bellowing, "Feed me!" Now imagine how creepy this game could be in the dark. A fun and silly read.

4 out of 5 stars


Full Disclosure -

A tale from a ghost's perspective as it tries to help out a beautiful girl who has moved into his old apartment and unknowingly brings home a demonic clock.

4 out of 5 stars


A solid effort from Lacey. Some of the stories were silly, but fun. It was best to just sit back, don't take things too seriously and enjoy the ride.

 


Overall, a solid 4 out of 5 stars.


This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

 


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Stolen Away - Kristin Dearborn

We've all done things we've regretted, especially in our twenties. Sometimes you're looking to let off a little steam, maybe forget all about the one that broke your heart. Trisha is not different. A single mom who's lived a hard life filled with hard drugs. When her and her boyfriend, Joel, break up because he's bailed for another woman, Trisha decides that she's going to party her ass off at a club and hook up with someone to forget about him. She accomplishes all the above and hooks up with a guy that has DEMON tattooed on his back. DEMON gives Trisha some Extacy like she's never had before. This stuff was potent. How else would you explain his skin turning red and horns emerging from his head while her body turns into sometime reptilian with iridescent scales? After the crazy night of rough sex with DEMON, Trisha ends up pregnant with his baby. She decides to clean up her life, no drugs, get a decent job and become a real mother to her daughter and newborn baby boy, Brayden. All seems like it's looking up until the night she's awakened by her daughter screaming. When she enters their bedroom, she discovers that the baby is gone and her daughter says that a monster took him away. DEMON has returned to claim his son. With nowhere else to turn, Trisha enlists Joel's help to return to the life she has tried so hard to put in the past to get Brayden back.

 

Kristin Dearborn has concocted an excellent tale of demons infiltrating our seedy underworld, taking what they want and no one being the wiser. Stolen Away isn't a story with superhero angels and devils. Demon and his entourage feel like people we've all seen at the clubs. Kristin and Joel haven't made the best choices, but they're trying to do the best they can. By showing their flaws, Dearborn gives the story a sense of every day realism which, in my opinion, is the only way to pull this story off. It's gritty and grimy, just like the real world. I have to admit, I couldn't quite get into Dearborn's earlier story, The Woman in White. The characters felt too wooden and unreal. With Stolen Away, I'm pleased to announce that there isn't even a slight hint of that. This one is the real deal and if you're looking for a tale about demons, go ahead and pass up the subpar Horns by Joe Hill and pick yourself up a copy of Stolen Away. It's the best story that I've read in 2016.

 

 

5 cloven hooves out of 5

 

 

This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

 


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Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell - Paul Kane

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell - Barbie Wilde, Paul Kane

I have a confession. Before reading this book, I had no clue who Paul Kane was. Apparently, to the people in the know, he is the leading guru on Clive Barker's Hellraiser films and mythos (outside of Barker, of course). So you'll have to excuse me for being late to the party. What I do know is that I love Clive Barker's Hellraiser films and I enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories. So when I stumbled across the title of this book, I was instantly intrigued. In what seems upon first glance as a farce, started sounding pretty damn full of possibilities the more I thought about it. After jumping head first into Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, I am pleased to announce that the possibilities were right on the money and Kane delivered one hell of a fun read.

 

Sherlock Holmes is moping around since he defeated his archenemy, Moriaty. Cases don't seem to be that intriguing or challenging and Holmes is apparently a ball of irritability if his mind isn't challenged. Dr. Watson is worried about his dear friend, especially since he's had a tangle with the opium demon from time to time. Then a missing person case comes in. Apparently, a Francis Cotton went inside his attic room, locked the door, and never came out. Disappeared. Holmes and Watson take the case and are stumped. Other missing person cases come trickling in with the same descriptions. Holmes is convinced that they are tied together. But how? When investigating one of the other disappearances, the duo discover a secret society that focuses on the forbidden pleasures of the flesh and a pillar that contained a small box. Sound familiar?

 

Kane's tale weaves in and out of tie-ins with previous Sherlock Holmes stories and the Hellraiser films. And it works. Very well, I might add. The story is told Arthur Conan Doyle-style through a re-telling by Dr Watson. We also get a nice perspective from it rotating back and forth from Watson to Holmes POV and back again. Who would've thought that the marriage of Sherlock Holmes and Clive Barker would work so well? You know what? Don't question a good thing and Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a good thing.

 

 

5 Elementary, My Dear Watsons out of 5

 


This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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Mayan Blue - Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason

Mayan Blue - Melissa Lason, Michelle L. De La Garza

Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason are described as "The Sisters of Slaughter" and Mayan Blue is their debut. And a confused debut it is.

 

Four students and their assistant professor head for the mountains of Georgia where they are to meet up with their professor who feels he's made a great discovery that will change the way history books are written. Once near the rendezvous point, all hell breaks loose. In what they think is the professor crying out for help, Wes and Alissa go off to find him. What they discover an open doorway to a Mayan underworld located deep within a cave inside the mountain. Mayans in Georgia? I like the idea. Unfortunately, that's about as good as it gets.

 

Mayan Blue had some promise. The premise of a Mayan underworld in Georgia had lots of possibilities. Instead, it ended up being one long chase scene where way too little happens. The beginning of the story starts out as a B-horror movie style story. Annoying cannon fodder characters that scream I'm going to be killed before the story even gets going. Then it opens up into the Mayan underworld with good shapeshifting characters. Then the last 1/2 to 1/3 ends up being a murky chase scene where characters are introduced for no apparent reason adding nothing to the story. Our heroes get injured so many times that you start wondering why they haven't dropped long ago from blood loss. Too little character and plot development dampens what could've been a great story.
You can see the talent is there. They simply need to focus on tightening up the story, spending more time on plot.

 

 

2 1/2 Sacrifices out of 5

 

 

This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

 

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The Monster Underneath - Matthew Franks

The Monster Underneath - Matthew Franks

The Monster Underneath is the maiden voyage for Matthew Franks and I have to say that I am really impressed. He has a masters degree in counseling and he uses that knowledge as the foundation of The Monsters Underneath.

 

Max Crawford is an unusual psychologist for the Texas prison system. He has a special psychic ability where he can enter inmate's dreams and relive their crimes with them to get them to feel remorse for what they have done. The FBI approach Max to use his special abilities on suspected killer, William Knox. Knox is being held on flimsy charges and is being accused of killing three young women. Without enough evidence to hold Knox and no chance of securing a confession, they turn to Crawford to enter into Knox's dreams while they still have him in prison to try and find enough evidence to force a confession.

 

Franks characters are the strength of his storytelling. Crawford and Knox are fully fleshed out and wonderfully three-dimensional. I enjoyed being a part of Crawford crawling inside Knox's head and he had me rooting for him to bust the bastard. Up to the 85% mark in this story, I was completely invested in it. Then the ending took an odd U-turn and simply felt like it was a weak attempt to leave it open-ended for the possibility of a sequel. That was disappointing. Outside of that, The Monsters Underneath is an extremely solid entry by Franks and his storytelling will have you hooked. I'm looking forward to seeing where his career takes him.

 

 

4 1/2 Serial Killers out of 5

 


This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

 


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A Mixed Bag of Blood - David Bernstein

A Mixed Bag of Blood - Kristopher Rufty, David Bernstein

A collection of short stories from David Bernstein. Here we go:

 


The Trojan Plushy -

 

Another revenge tale that combines the werewolf with witchcraft and the Trojan Horse. Has a Twilight Zone-kind of feel.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

The Booglin -

 

You'll think twice the next time you have a booger stuck and it won't come out. Fun, silly story.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

Eaten Un-Alive -

 

Life isn't easy when you're a vampire in a zombie apocalypse.

 

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 


It's Nice Not To Have To Share -

 

Georgia shares everything with her sister Gerri, but some things she wants to keep to herself.

 

3 out of 5 stars

 


Invasion -

 

Aliens plan to overtake earth by imitating a cockroach and using the neighborhood adolescent psycho.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

Samurai Zombie Killer -

 

A zombie contagion in the water supply of the local samurai warrior.

 

3 out of 5 stars

 

 

Small Town, Big Trouble -

 

The werewolf legend to help explain Sasquatch. I love it.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

 

Bad Cutlery -

 

When good knives go bad. A fun possessed object story.

 

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 


Potty Mouth -

 

This is one messed up story! I won't even try to explain it. It's simply something you'll have to experience for yourself. Kudos to Bernstein for probably the most far out there original tale I have ever read! You need professional help, sir!

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

 

STD -

 

If you weren't convinced to practice safe sex before, you will be by the time you finish this story.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 


All in all, a nice collection of macabre tales. There were only a couple that didn't do it for me. The rest were fun and there were even some that I have to question Bernstein's sanity or blood alcohol level. Good stuff.

 

 

Overall:

 

4 1/2 Bags of Blood out of 5

 


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The Grave - Charles Grant

The Grave - Charles L. Grant

I enjoy the slow burn of Grant's storytelling. If you know anything of him, you know that he doesn't bludgeon you over the head with nonstop gore and action. He teases you with the horror, slowly building up into a final crescendo. I've been reading his Oxrun Station series in chronological order and The Grave is my latest in the journey. Up until now, my complaint has been the weak, shallow and helpless female characters. The kind that have a conniption if they break a nail or are helpless unless a big strong male rescues them. I realize that this stereotype was common in quite a few horror novels from the late 1970s. It still doesn't help me enjoy it. In The Grave, the female characters can stand on their own two feet and even though the male lead is kind of a dingbat, he's not so bad that he's annoying. But what has always been Grant's strength - a wonderful slow burn of a strong storyline - is miserably empty of plot. In an attempt at being murky to keep you guessing, it actually is an exercise of patience. Nothing, and I mean nothing, happened until 40% into The Grave and then the plot was muddy and incoherent at best. This continued on and on and then at the end, it felt like Grant tried to explain it all as quickly as possible so that he could bring the story to a close. Unfortunately, the explanation doesn't help or make it any more interesting. You're just kind of "meh" and closed the book.

 

 

2 Unmarked Graves out of 5

 


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Reading progress update: I've read 63%.

The Grave - Charles L. Grant

You'd think getting some in an old graveyard would be more rewarding.

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

A Mixed Bag of Blood - Kristopher Rufty, David Bernstein

The Trojan Plushy - Beware of where you buy your children's toys.

Reading progress update: I've read 16%.

The Grave - Charles L. Grant

Where is the owner of this arm?

Relic of Death - David Bernstein

Relic of Death - David Bernstein

When two mafia hit men have their luxury SUV breakdown in rural upstate NY after disposing of a body, they come upon a house on a dirt lane. They beat on the door to no avail. No one is home. The door is reinforced and won't budge. They try to shoot their way in. No dice. They end up bludgening the door open with the blunt end of a splitting maul. Once inside, they find a safe that is just begging to be cracked. Inside, they find only a briefcase. However, this briefcase is full of diamonds. What the hit men thought was their lucky day only turns out to be the beginning of death and destruction for all who possess the briefcase.

 

Bernstein takes us down a rabbit hole where the naughty briefcase goes from person to person in a roller coaster ride of mayhem that will remind you of shades of the Twilight Zone, Tales From the Darkside, and Friday the 13th the Series. Great story and highly recommended.

 

4 1/2 Temptations out of 5.


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I Kill In Peace - Hunter Shea

I Kill in Peace - Hunter Shea

Peter gets a strange message at work warning him that he is going to be fired at the end of the day. The message is from someone labeled as AO. He doesn't know anyone by AO and writes it off as a prank and at the end of the day, guess what happens? That's right. His self-righteous prick of a boss calls him into his office and gives him the axe. Who is this AO and how did they know about it? Later on that day, AO sends him another message telling him to get ready to kill his ex-boss and that he'll send a red Mustang for him to use. Peter has no desire to follow through with AO's demand and refuses. As a result, he is greeted with the most excruciating, debilitating pain in his head. Seeing the Mustang pull in at the rendezvous point, Peter stumbles over to it to kick whoever this AO is ass. Whipping the door to the running muscle car open, he finds that there is no one inside and as soon as he sits in the car, the headache is instantly gone. Is Peter going crazy? How is this AO able to communicate with him and provide the means to kill his boss? Will Peter really go through with what AO demands?

 

I Kill in Peace is a fast paced tale from Hunter Shea that keeps you turning the pages so fast that they almost become a blur as you try to discover what is really happening to Peter. It is a tight story that you should let yourself have fun with. You'll be glad you did.

 

4 Holy Marys out of 5

 


** I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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