Darkness Whispers

Richard Chizmar and Brian James Freeman. Scarlet Galleon, $35 (160p) ISBN 978-0-692-78623-9
Anthology editors Chizmar (the Shivers series) and Freeman (the Dark Screams series) build tension and hook readers but ultimately disappoint with this svelte tale of modern small-town life gone wrong. When a stranger comes to tiny Windbrook, Penn., to test its claim as “PA’s Friendliest Town,” gruesome murder and mayhem follow. Sheriff Benjamin Logan, a traumatized military veteran, investigates the uncharacteristic violence besetting the town, darting from one crime scene to the next until he finally confronts the stranger and faces his ultimate challenge. The characters are instantly engaging, and the story moves at such a satisfying clip that readers will regret their rapid arrival at the weak ending, which suffers from a painfully clichéd twist. The volume also contains two bonus stories: Chizmar’s “The Meek Shall Inherit” follows two boys investigating a neighbor they suspect of being a serial killer and displays the same comfortable prose marking the main story; Freeman’s “What they Left Behind” is a tense exploration of a haunted office building abandoned after a mysterious fire. Both stories fall flat at the end, leaving readers to wish for fresher ideas or deeper thematic content. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Genre: Fiction
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