C. Dennis Moore


Bio: With over 60 publications including short stories, poetry, anthologies edited and appearing in, solo collections as well as his long-standing personal website, C. Dennis Moore (http://www.cdennismoore.com/page1.php) is dedicated to showcasing horror fiction as literature. Most recent appearances were in the Vile Things anthology, Fiction365.com, Dark Highlands 2, What Fears Become, Dead Bait 3 and Dark Highways. His novel, Revelations, is available in hardcover, trade paperback or ebook formats from Necro Publications.

Where to find C. Dennis Moore online


Invasion Agents #3: Between the Thorn and the Flower, the Pleasure & the Pain
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 5,350. Language: English. Published: March 7, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Graphic novels & comics » Superheroes, Fiction » Holiday » Adventure
“Between the Thorn and the Flower, the Pleasure & the Pain” is the third issue in a new ongoing monthly series.
Invasion Agents #2: Chaos at the Convenience Store
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 5,880. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Graphic novels & comics » Superheroes
The Invasion Agents are just getting
It's Over
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 18,780. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark, Fiction » Religious
It’s Over is the first in a trilogy of movie tie-ins written by Caleb Straus and adapted by horror author C. Dennis Moore (the Angel Hill novels, and the Monsters of Green Lake series). It’s the beginning of the end, and the people of earth have no idea what’s coming their way. The devil has been planning this since his days in the Garden of Eden. Finally, his plans are coming to fruition. What h
Problems and Bigger Ones
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,300. Language: English. Published: January 29, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
“Problems and Bigger Ones”, the latest Angel Hill short, is a brutal, unforgiving story about love, devotion, and loss when two best friends find themselves in an inescapable situation and every turn leads to one more dead end.
Invasion Agents #1: When the Hangman Comes to Town
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,500. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Graphic novels & comics » Superheroes
“When the Hangman Comes to Town” is the first issue in a new ongoing monthly series.
Five Furies
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 27,830. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
We all have our breaking point and these stories explore those times that bring out the darkness inside all of us. Whether it’s a survival instinct kicking in during a fight against an army of vicious insects, one man’s rage against the afterlife, or a simple argument that goes south, we’re all familiar with that black hole as it rises in the pit of our stomachs, and it always leads to trouble.
HORROR HAS A NEW HOME: the Angel Hill box set
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 334,060. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
WELCOME TO ANGEL HILL Angel Hill is not a place to be taken lightly. For many, it's the sort of town you escape from, not one you move into. And those who do often find the ghosts of their past have a way of following them.
Doing it Write
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 33,300. Language: English. Published: October 19, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / Success
Whether you’re a new writer or a veteran, many of the pitfalls are the same. Lack of motivation, writer’s block, outside influences, and lack of belief in yourself can all contribute to relying on the dreaded day job. But if you’re looking for a way to break the cycle and be the consistently productive writer you’ve always known you could be, DOING IT WRITE will help.
Kung Fu Sasquatch
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 10,380. Language: English. Published: September 15, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mashups
Get ready for an entirely different kind of beast.
Zero to Published
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 49,500. Language: English. Published: July 12, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills
Have you always wanted to write but never knew where to begin? Are you a practiced writer who just needs a jumpstart? This book walks you through the process from idea to final draft, showing you step by step how I wrote my novella, “The Vampires of Green Lake”.
The Night
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 16,330. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Men’s adventure, Fiction » Graphic novels & comics » Superheroes
THE NIGHT is on a mission. The only real problem: he’s only seventeen and his parents have no idea of his secret identity.
The Man in the Window
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 47,110. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » Undead
The man in the window brings with him memories Todd buried years ago, and once they've woken, he'll have to make a trip back home to revisit the worst day of his life.
Ten Writing Prompts That Work (and the stories to prove it)
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 30,540. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Time Management
10 Writing Prompts That Work (and the stories to prove it) is an excellent way to jumpstart that new novel or short story, with inventive prompts that do more than just give you a fun writing exercise. The prompts in this book will actually help you write a publishable story--and to prove it, each prompt is backed up by a short story that was written using it.
Series: Angel Hill. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 66,100. Language: English. Published: August 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction, Fiction » Horror » Ghost
Oliver Mark has found the perfect house. Old, abandoned on the outskirts of Angel Hill where no one lives, it’s the perfect place for he and his girlfriend to make a life together. But when Oliver breaks into the place to explore his new treasure, he finds himself lost in a maze of confusion and spatial anomaly.
The Vampires of Green Lake
Series: The Monsters of Green Lake. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 27,140. Language: English. Published: August 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Horror » Occult
The werewolves were dead and David Reed just wanted life for his family to return to normal. But a mysterious wooden box found in the woods suggests that word has a whole new meaning, one he’s not prepared for. As he tries to uncover the secrets of the box, a new threat emerges from the night, and it’s targeting those closest to him.
Private Helicopter
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,670. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
The Angel Hill Podcast explores the mysteries surrounding this strange Midwestern town, asking questions that shouldn’t be asked, seeking answers best left unspoken. And someone, or something, has been stalking the podcast’s host, hoping to stop his investigation.
Ash Wednesday
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,300. Language: English. Published: November 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Suspense, Fiction » Horror » Crime
Can a visiting priest at St. Michael’s help save Mary’s soul? In Angel Hill, nothing is certain.
What the Blind Man Saw
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,620. Language: English. Published: November 2, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Horror » Occult
WHAT THE BLIND MAN SAW promises chills and thrills amid a host of horrors guaranteed to keep the lights on into the late hours. Featuring killer cockroaches, an immortal who won’t stop aging, and the Devil on a drug run, this collection is a great jumping on point for Moore’s brand of horror in bite-size doses.
The C. Dennis Moore Horror Movie Guide Vol. 6
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 92,680. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Consumer guides, Nonfiction » Entertainment » History & Criticism
Before you settle down for your Halloween night horror movie marathon, dive into this collection and see what’s worth watching and what’s worth scrubbing from your memory.
Three Sides of the Same Coin
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 225,850. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » Occult
Three Sides of the Same Coin is nearly a quarter of a million words of Angel Hill lore sure to make even new readers feel like life-long residents. Not that that’s necessarily a good thing. This IS Angel Hill, after all.
Flagpole Sitta
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,280. Language: English. Published: October 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
“Flagpole Sitta” is a 5000 word story of madness, paranoia, and identity, all tapped out in a coded message by a bird on a pole.
Love Jones
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 26,880. Language: English. Published: September 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » General, Fiction » Erotica » Erotica Anthologies
LOVE JONES isn’t a happy-go-lucky collection. These love stories do not have happy endings. Instead, these stories show the darker, less appealing side of opening your heart to someone. Fueled by sleepless nights and grey skies, LOVE JONES just might ruin your day.
The Werewolves of Green Lake
Series: The Monsters of Green Lake. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 27,640. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Occult, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
David Reed's wife thinks the animal he almost hit in the road was a bear, but David suspects the thing’s origins might not be so simple, and that it might be connected with the traveling carnival that’s recently come to town. He fears soon he’ll hear its claws scratching at the back door, trying to get in.
Woolly Muffler
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,580. Language: English. Published: August 27, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
For eighteen years, Jason has heard the talk around town, but he’s never actually seen any of Angel Hill’s ghosts. Until one night at a Senior party, he hears a noise upstairs and decides to check it out. He tells himself the key to freeing a ghost is to find out what it wants, but if what the ghost wants is justice, it might not be too particular on where it finds it.
David Bain Must Die(t)!
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 7,880. Language: English. Published: August 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Mashups
David Bain Must Die(t)! is meant as a tribute to a friend and writer whose imagination and command of the language inspires me every time I read his work. Thanks for being there.
The Best Nonfiction and Storytelling Podcasts
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,860. Language: English. Published: August 18, 2015 by AA Productions. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Biography, Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
There are so many nonfiction and storytelling podcasts out there, all vying for your attention! How do you know which to choose? Author David Bain listens to more than 24 hours of podcasts per week and shares his research with you, with commentary and details on the top 15 free podcasts in the category. The podcasts, listed with links, should provide you with hours of happy listening!
Carlotta Valdez
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,640. Language: English. Published: August 15, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
There are many ghosts that wander the halls of the Mertland Childrens’ Home in Angel Hill. The story of what happened to Carlotta Valdez has grown into legend, but the truth is very, very different. For one angry young woman, Mertland has a way of paying back what’s due.
The Return of Alison Wonderland
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 14,230. Language: English. Published: August 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Adventure » General
With the powers of Madness at her fingertips, the mystery of Alison’s whereabouts for the past year only makes this mission all the more dangerous. What if she’s been turned? What if she doesn’t remember them? Alison’s got the power to warp all of reality around her with a flick of her wrist and Snow and Cinder could be walking directly into a danger they can’t possibly understand.
The Power & the Gravy
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,740. Language: English. Published: March 10, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
This collection includes seven poems and four short stories. Devil’s Dream A Horse Inside the Night Isolation Looked Back Pink Jellybug Mink (the song) Pink Jellybug Mink II (the poem) The Raven’s Spears Senses Warm Bodies What the Blind Man Saw Widow’s Veil
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 7,550. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Graphic novels & comics » Superheroes, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
To escape the abuse of his childhood, John Darrow split. In seven different ways. Now, the adult John struggles with the voices in his head, all of them with a different special talent, as he tries to do what little good he can.
The Flip
Series: Angel Hill. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 84,320. Language: English. Published: February 27, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » Occult
HARD TIMES. After almost two decades, Mike finds himself out of a job. With no prospects in Angel Hill, he decides to go into business for himself. He and his friends, Brian, Steven and Keith, form a company to buy cheap houses and flip them for quick profit. It was a great plan until their first project turned out to be more than they bargained for.
The C. Dennis Moore Horror Movie Guide, Vol. 2
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 77,840. Language: English. Published: February 13, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Consumer guides
Another sampling of horror movies from around the world and through the decades, these reviews tell it like it is, what works, what doesn't, and why.
The C. Dennis Moore Horror Movie Guide, Vol. 3
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 62,190. Language: English. Published: February 11, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Consumer guides
This latest collection of movie reviews from horror author C. Dennis Moore runs the gamut from forgotten classics to new releases, from Hollywood films to the micro budget films of producer Charles Band. There’s a collection of Asian horror, as well as three blaxploitation classics,
The Ghosts of Mertland
Series: Angel Hill. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 53,820. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » Occult
Horror author C. Dennis Moore returns to the town of Angel Hill, site of his #1 bestselling haunted house novel THE THIRD FLOOR, for another tale in the ongoing saga of this dark and twisted place.
Groundhog Day
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,510. Language: English. Published: August 10, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Holiday » Adventure
In this third installment of his Holiday Horror series, author C. Dennis Moore offers an action-packed creature feature that will make you think twice before you step foot in your yard again. C. Dennis Moore is the author of over 60 published short stories and novellas in the speculative fiction genre. His novel THE THIRD FLOOR is a #1 Amazon bestseller.
It's Over Chronicles: Just One Fix
Price: Free! Words: 3,840. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Horror » Occult
In this sort of prequel to IT'S OVER, Dwayne and Scott are headed to an out of the way place to make a score on a hot Texas afternoon in 1977. Dwayne is in dire need of a fix and as the day wears on he's not entirely sure if the hallucinations he's having are brought on by the sickness or if there's something about his friend Scott he doesn't know.
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 21,870. Language: English. Published: February 4, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Christian » Fantasy
Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean God is done with us. But are the lost, forgotten and damned up to the challenge?
The Dichotomy of Monsters
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 67,480. Language: English. Published: January 27, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
Horror author C. Dennis Moore returns to the short story form with this latest collection, THE DICHOTOMY OF MONSTERS, 65,000 words, fifteen terrifying tales of things that aren’t what they seem. Moore’s reality will leave you questioning your own senses and doubting the proof right in front of your eyes.
Martin Luther King. Jr. Day
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,880. Language: English. Published: January 21, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Crime, Fiction » Horror » General
Horror author C. Dennis Moore offers this unique look at a holiday not normally known for its horror connections. Set in the same world as his story “New Year’s Day”, “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” expands the universe of that story and follows one of the disciples from Tom Hooper’s past.
New Year's Day
Price: Free! Words: 8,400. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General, Fiction » Horror » Crime
Not everything is business as usual on this New Year’s Day as Kevin discovers an old evil has returned to pick up where it left off and the only thing it wants is to help him be a better person, no matter how much blood it has to spill in the process.
The Third Floor
Series: Angel Hill. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 83,210. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
Hell House. The Amityville Horror. The Haunting of Hill House. Horror author C. Dennis Moore invites you to the newest haunted house on the block, a place so mean, even in a town where strange is the norm, the stories surrounding this house are legend. The problem is they’re all true.
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,660. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
One man finds it hard to let go of his obsession, especially when his favorite part of her is hanging on the wall.
The C. Dennis Moore Horror Movie Guide, Vol. 1
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 73,160. Language: English. Published: October 4, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Consumer guides
This guides features reviews of the Hellraiser, Feast, Pulse, Leprechaun and Boogeyman franchises, as well as reviews of classic horror films like Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Keep My Grave Open, Beast of the Yellow Night, The Vampire's Night Orgy, and more.
Welcome to the Trust
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,300. Language: English. Published: September 18, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
The road to Hell. These stories are set in the world of the novel REVELATIONS and provide some backstory on a few of that novel's more interesting characters.
With Just a Hint of Mayhem: The C. Dennis Moore Short Fiction Omnibus vol 1
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 114,070. Language: English. Published: August 13, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
This book collects in one place C. Dennis Moore's three short story collections, "Terrible Thrills", "Icons to Ashes" and "Dancing on a Razorblade". Over 400 pages of short horror fiction from the author Cemetery Dance Magazine called "an author worth keeping an eye on."
Epoch Winter
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 12,800. Language: English. Published: July 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
A man running from his past, a woman out of time, an unbreakable bond formed in hardship. Horror writer C. Dennis Moore (author of the novel REVELATIONS) weaves a unique tale of fantasy and science fiction wrapped up on a blanket of myth and folklore from another time in this 12,000 word novella, one of his most accomplished works of fiction.
Safe at Home
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 21,340. Language: English. Published: July 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
Horror author C. Dennis Moore (REVELATIONS and THE MAN IN THE WINDOW) takes a detour with this 21,000-word suspense novella in what is one of his most autobiographical works. Kealan Patrick Burke called “Safe at Home”, “Smart, sexy and witty as hell with some razor-edged suspense thrown in to keep you on edge throughout.”
Five Fantasies
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,410. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
A collection of stories from the deadly realm of the fantastic. This cook collects the reprints "Coming Down the Mountain", "Luck of the Draw", "In the Town of Broken Dreams", "Angels of No Mercy" and "Working for the Fat Man".
Five Fates
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,450. Language: English. Published: June 24, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
A collection of stories about the inevitability of destiny. This book collects the stories "In the Veins", "The Son of Man", "The Legend of Mr. Cairo", "Plaything" and "Terrible Thrills".
Dancing on a Razorblade
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,940. Language: English. Published: May 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
Horror author C. Dennis Moore’s third short story collection, DANCING ON A RAZORBLADE, is 45,000 words of intense, hard-hitting horror fiction that refuses to let up until the bloody end. This is a serious collection of horror fiction which reveals the monsters truly are hiding everywhere. Nothing is safe and DANCING ON A RAZORBLADE illustrates that point with a very fine and dangerous edge.
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C. Dennis Moore's tag cloud

action adventure    adult horror    adventure fantasy    angel hill    angels    angels and demons    anger    angry spirits    animal horror    apocalypse    armageddon    bad romance    benendanti    best friends    bigfoot    blaxploitation    body horror    boogeyman    bugs    buried memories    c dennis moore    canadian rockies    cannibals    catacombs    catholic    catholic horror    charles band    children    classic horror    claustrophobia    cloud monster    conspiracies    creative    creature feature    crime    crime horror    critters    cryptids    cuneiforms    dancing on a razorblade    danger    deals with the devil    death    demon    demons    despair    devil    devils    drug dealing    drugs    education and reference writing skills inspiration fiction howto nonfiction creativity    end of the world    erotic    fairy tale mashup    family    family drama    family horror    fantasy    fear    feast    fiction    film criticism    foreign films    found footage movies    gender swapping    ghost    ghost story    ghosts    ghosts surreal horror haunted house mindbending horror small town horror creature horror nightmare horror    gnagsters    goblins    government    graphic detail    grim heroes    groundhog day    gypsies    halloween    hallucinations    hansel and gretal    hardcore horror    hate    haunted    haunted house    haunted house movies    heaven and hell    hell stories    hellraiser    heroes    heroes and villains    historical romance    holiday    holiday horror    horror    horror adult fiction    horror and dark    horror and ghosts    horror author    horror fiction    horror movies    how to    humorous    icons to ashes    in the veins    insanity    insanity horror madness paranoia angel hill short stories identity horror surreal horror    isolation    journalism    juvenile delinquents    kidnapping    killer insects    killjoy    lakota    leprechaun    life and death    loss of loved one    lost memories    love in the time of science    love story    lovecraftian    lovehate    low budget    low budget movies    lycanthrope    madness    maggie andrews gets the facts    magical objects    martial arts    martin luther king jr    martin luther king jr day    mashup    metafiction    mind swap    missouri    monster    monsters    movie    movie reviews    movies    multi author collection    multiple personalities    murder    mystery    myths and legends    netflix    new town    new years day    news    novel excerpt    novella    obsession    picking up the pieces    playgrounds    plaything    podcast    poetry    possession    prequel    psychic horror    psycho    psychological horror    pulse    rage    rapture    real life    redemption    reincarnation    religious crime    religious horror    renovation    resolutions    revenge    revenge fiction    revenge of the roach king    reviews    romance    safe at home    santa claus    sasquatch    science    science fiction    scifi    scifi horror    secret identities    selfimprovement    serial adventure    serial killer    serial killer horror    seven deadly sins    sex    shapeshifter    short horror    short reads    short stories    slasher movies    small town horror    stalker    steampunk    stephen king movies    super heroes    super powers    super team    superheroes    superpowers    surreal horror    suspense    suspense supernatural werewolf    ten commandments    terrible thrills    the further adventures of a    the legend of mr cairo    the son of man    thriller    thrilling    time travel    torture    transformation fiction    transformation horror    ufo    undead    undead fiction    unquiet spirits    urban legends    vampire    vampires    vengeful ghost    villains    war in heaven    weird town    werewolf    werewolves    witches    withdrawal    wrath    writing    writing fantasy    writing improvement    writing skills    ya    young adult    zombie    zombies   

C. Dennis Moore's favorite authors on Smashwords

Christopher Fulbright
Latest book: Red Chalice. Published September 25, 2014.
Edward Lee
Latest book: Le Dritiphile. Published January 14, 2018.
Gary Braunbeck
Latest book: To Each Their Darkness. Published December 13, 2010.
Jack Ketchum
Latest book: The Box. Published January 2, 2018.
Jason Brannon
Latest book: Winds of Change. Published February 18, 2011.
John Skipp
Latest book: Conscience. Published March 27, 2014.
Wayne Allen Sallee
Latest book: Rapid Transit: Volume 1. Published April 28, 2017.

Smashwords book reviews by C. Dennis Moore

  • The Tingles on Jan. 18, 2011

    Despite some grammatical issues and way too much repetition of the character's name in such a short story (when "he" would have sufficed and not been so distracting), I liked the idea, and the ending was very unexpected.
  • Island Ghosts: A Will Castleton Adventure on Jan. 21, 2011

    Castleton is a great character, allowing Bain to show another side of himself I hadn't seen in previous writings. The end of this one is very well-done.
  • The Bone Tree on Feb. 03, 2011

    Hands down the best Christopher Fulbright story I've read yet. This is a new level of craft for him and I'm even more eager now to see what's next.
  • Prodigal Blues on July 02, 2012

    A funny thing happened when I started collecting Gary Braunbeck novels. In 2006 I missed one. I mean, I’d heard the title several times over the years, but for some reason, it always seemed to me like an older novel, like something published before I’d started reading Braunbeck, and with that in mind I figured it was going to be one of those collector’s editions that would cost as much as my house payment anyway, so I never sought it out. Then I found the ebook on smash words for only $3.99, so naturally I snatched it up. Only later did I realize this book was only a few years old. PRODIGAL BLUES isn’t technically a Cedar Hill story, although the main character Mark does live in Cedar Hill. In this story, he’s in southern Missouri, on his way back from Kansas to sign some papers for his sister regarding their grandmother’s inheritance. On the drive back, the loaner car Mark got from his brother-in-law breaks down and a tow truck gives him a ride into town where he gets a motel room for the night, then goes across the street for dinner. While in the restaurant, Mark notices a particular VW van in the parking lot, pulling a silver Airstream trailer. He’d spotted the car a few times on the highway, noticing the little girl inside it who waved to him. While waiting for his food, Mark looks around the restaurant and notices that same little girl’s face, only this time it’s staring out at him from a MISSING poster. At first he wonders if this is a set-up, a test to see how much people really pay attention to the faces on those posters by having the little girl featured on it actually inside the restaurant. Then he goes back to his booth and finds the girl sitting there, waiting for him. There’s the expected hubbub with the police and news involved, but Mark escapes the scene unnoticed and goes back to his room. The restaurant owner says she’ll have his food sent over to him. Back in his room, Mark calls his wife, but then when he goes to answer the knock at the door telling him his food has arrived, he has only a second to realize this isn’t a waitress, and the tazer she zaps him with isn’t dinner. When Mark wakes up, he realizes he’s been taken captive. Eventually he learns his captors are themselves escapees from their own captor, only theirs was a sadistic pedophile who has permanently scarred them in various ways, removed body parts, flayed their skin, burnt them, just about any form of torture you can think of, these kids have had it done to them. Previous to the beginning of the novel, the kids finally, after several years, have made their escape. Now they need someone to help deliver them home without a lot of media attention or authorities. See, the guy who held them captive, Grendel, operated within a particular circle, and this circle included men in high places, in professions it just wasn’t safe to turn yourself over to. So they need a cover, someone they know isn’t connected to Grendel or his customers who can help get them back to their families. I had a bit of trouble following the logic of the story, however. With the quickest route being a straight line, why bother wandering the highways looking for a random stranger to take the kids home when the kids themselves were driving the van, had directions and everything to their homes, plenty of money to get them there. So why bother kidnapping someone else to assist them? Because he looked normal and wouldn’t arouse suspicion? How long could it possibly take to get everyone home? I mean the novel takes place in only two days. When the first kid is delivered to his home, Christopher, the oldest and leader of the group, holds a gun on Mark and forces him to call the boy’s parents, posing as a US Marshall, to hand over their son. As far as I could tell, the only thing Mark really did was wake them up and tell them there’s a network of perverts out there, we have a few more kids to get home so don’t go to the news or anything just yet. But couldn’t Christopher have done that? I mean it doesn’t seem like any chore to have the kids themselves deliver the kids home. In fact, if they’d all operated as a team, let the parents see what Grendel had done to them, and then Christopher had said “I need to get the rest of these guys home, and Grendel has a network of perverts out there, so wait a day or so before you call the news, okay?” . . . wouldn’t that have been just as effective? And saved time. I just didn’t get the logic of the novel. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong; the writing was all Braunbeck, and that’s good stuff, and the characters were fully developed and interacted well and the story flew by, but looking at it objectively, it just seemed a lot of time was wasted recruiting Mark when they could have just done it themselves. I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something here. This is the first non-supernatural horror novel I’ve read from Braunbeck, and he pulled it off nicely. The subject alone is something that no one could argue is the most horrible situation imaginable, and nary a ghost was needed to pull it off. Braunbeck has a knack for describing some seriously messed up stuff, and his eye for what details to show, what details to imply, is spot on. He perfectly conveys the hell the kids lived in without getting gratuitous in his descriptions, and of course the stuff he doesn’t show just makes the readers’ minds work overtime and the stuff we come with ourselves is bad enough and that in turn makes our connection to and empathy with the characters all the stronger. While I had trouble following just why they needed Mark’s help, Braunbeck drew me in with his prose, his story and his characters. I’ve yet to read a Braunbeck story I didn’t like, and PRODIGAL BLUES continues that tradition, and is just further proof, for me, why it is I continue to sing his praises.