cover image The Reckoning

The Reckoning

Carsten Stroud. Vintage/Black Lizard, $15.95 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-1-101-87302-1

Whether working in the atmospheric regional mode of James Lee Burke, the modern horror vein of Stephen King, the sardonic gangster idiom of Carl Hiaasen, or the supernatural traditions of H.P. Lovecraft and Bram Stoker, Stroud can be a great storyteller, as shown in this sprawling, sometimes confusing conclusion to his Niceville trilogy. Aided by Niceville native Lemon Featherlight, an expert on local history and legends, Det. Nick Kavanaugh pursues a relentless killer who’s driven by something evil that haunts the Southern town (in an unnamed state). Meanwhile, Nick’s lawyer wife, Kate, does what she can to save her and Nick’s foster son, Rainey Teague, from whatever possesses him. A huge cast of characters—some of them vivid, others indistinguishable—must contend with such threats as zombies, demons, and an annoying Chihuahua. General tightening and the removal of several superfluous subplots would have made this a better book. Those who haven’t read 2012’s Niceville and 2013’s The Homecoming are advised to do so first. [em]Agent: Barney Karpfinger, Karpfinger Agency. (Aug.) [/em]