In the past few years, I’ve been catching up on the horror authors who I missed. Among them is James A. Moore. His partner in crime for this tome is Charles R. Rutledge. While I have read Moore and enjoy his work, I’m unfamiliar with Rutledge. After reading their new collaboration Blind Shadows from Arcane Wisdom Press, I will be adding him to the read list.
When private investigator Wade Griffin moved away from his hometown of Wellman, Georgia he didn’t think he would be back. Too many memories and too many bridges burned. But when an old friend is found brutally murdered and mutilated, nothing can keep Griffin from going home. Teamed with another childhood friend, Sheriff Carl Price, Griffin begins an investigation that will lead down darker paths than he could ever have imagined. Soon Griffin and Price find that there are secrets both dark and ancient lurking in the back woods of Crawford’s Hollow. As Halloween approaches, something evil is growing near the roots of the Georgia
mountains, and the keys to the mystery seem to be a woman of almost indescribable beauty and a dead man who won’t stay dead. As the body count mounts and the horrors pile up, Griffin and Price come to realize that the menace they face extends far beyond the boundaries of Wellman and that their opponents seem to hold all the cards. But the two lawmen have a few secrets of their own, and one way or another there will be hell to pay.
The novel throws you right in the action as Griffin arrives to the murder scene of a childhood friend back in the hometown he left years before. This is where the novel works really well, it starts off quickly and builds like a crime novel, taking you by the hand and leading you through the backwoods in search of a killer who has a certain dramatic flare when they kill. Wellman, Georgia has a problem with meth and the murder seems to stem from the local drug trade except the victim exhibits various cult-like symbols. The ritualistic killings raise questions as to the motive and the killer’s identity. A string of similar mutilated bodies begin to pile up linking the murders in the method and details taken at each crime scene. The action builds as Griffin and Price race to figure out who is behind the killings while enlisting the aid of an old man versed in local lore, an old professor, and the local occult bookstore owner. In the center of it all is the Blackbourne family who controls the local drug trade and maybe more than anyone else ever imagined because on Halloween night 1986, something tried to enter our world and failed. Now as Halloween approaches, it is time to try again leading to a page turning climax that is very satisfying.
The book reads like a hard-boiled crime novel and shifts to a good horror novel. Once the focus changes to the cult and supernatural elements, it takes you for a ride that grabs you and throws you around for a bit. There are nods to the Lovecraft mythos, pulse pounding action, and some surprises are in store for those who are familiar with Moore’s work as you find out what is going on in the shadows.
Overall, when you can throw some murder, an undead hillbilly, and elder gods into a novel…you have my attention. It is a bloody fun read and the book flew by quickly. When it was over, I wanted to read more about the area and the local myths and legends that built the novel’s narrative.
Great book, highly recommended, and I give it 4.5 out of 5 tombstones.