**3.5-stars rounded up**
Ben Bookman is a best-selling Horror novelist in the vein of Stephen King. Ben’s not afraid to get dark and growing up at his family’s spooky estate, known as Blackwood, certainly provided him with plenty of inspiration.
In fact, Ben returned to the estate for a weekend retreat to help him finish his latest book, The Scarecrow.
That weekend is shrouded in mystery. It’s mentioned a few separate times in the narrative, you can tell something fairly serious went down, but it’s unclear what. Even Ben can’t recall what happened there.
Regardless, the freaking book got finished and that’s the most important thing.
Unfortunately, before the book is even officially released, the terrible events from the story begin to occur in real life. It’s as if the story has crawled off the page and taken over Ben’s hometown of New Haven.
New Haven native, Detective Mills and his daughter, Rookie Detective Blue, are tasked with looking into the gruesome murders that become known as the Scarecrow Crimes. Unsurprisingly, Ben is their prime suspect.
How else would anyone know his text that well? It hasn’t even released yet. Perhaps it was a Netgalley Reader…
This story starts out with the first bloody crime scene. An entire family butchered, individually encased in cocoons made of corn husks and hung in their own barn.
Hey, I told you it gets dark. There is oozing blood, flies and let’s not even consider the smell.
Mills and Blue are in for the most startling investigation of their lives. Ben Bloom is just trying to save his family from harm and his reputation. If anyone can get to the bottom of these crimes, it should be the man who wrote them.
The build-up of this had me temporarily fooled. I thought this was going in one direction, a sort of predictable direction, but enjoyably, it was not that. This is actually a unique and twisted tale that definitely kept me engaged.
There are a lot of characters and I’ll admit, at times I lost track a bit. That was sort of a downfall for me. I had to relisten to some parts a few times. It’s the kind of story, if you aren’t 100% paying attention you are going to miss something; particularly towards the end.
Additionally, I felt this was a little drawn out. I think it could have been cut down a bit and it still would have had the same impact.
With this being said, I did really appreciate Markert’s creativity and the Horror imagery was well-presented. This is a big scope kind of story and honestly, I’m not completely sure I picked up on all the different aspects of it.
This was left off nicely though, where I could actually see there being a strong continuation to this story. There are definitely some things that could use further exploration. I’d absolutely be willing to go along for the ride.
I definitely recommend this to Horror fans, or fans of dark, potentially supernatural Thrillers. I think a lot of Readers will really enjoy this one.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review. I am looking forward to more from J.H. Markert!
The Nightmare Man is releasing on Tuesday, January 10th, 2023!! You can preorder now!!