cover image The Killing Grounds

The Killing Grounds

Joan Tierney. Neon Hemlock, $13.99 trade paper (98p) ISBN 978-1-952086-57-1

The discovery and death of a serial killer brings the unspoken dramas of an outside-of-the-law small town into focus in this intricate but efficient horror novella from Tierney (Letters from the End of the World). In the near future, Bina Morton works for an autoline, a newfangled alternative mass transportation, and allows Robert Williams, an unsettling stranger from her same small town, to hitch a ride—a ride that ends with Robert shot dead and his identity as the Southern Tier Strangler revealed. As his crimes and their repercussions come to light, Bina is forced to consider that her absent mother may have been one of his first victims. There’s just as much gore and death as horror readers will expect, though it’s never gratuitous, and Tierney makes a great and successful effort to equally depict the complex relationships between Bina and her family. By balancing the emotionally resonant with the frightening and bloody, this bite-size tale packs an outsize punch. (Apr.)