cover image Chasing the Boogeyman

Chasing the Boogeyman

Richard Chizmar. Gallery, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-9821-7516-0

This impressive metafictional thriller from bestseller Chizmar (Widow’s Point) mixes autobiography with crime. In the summer of 1988, with a freshly minted journalism degree, a version of Chizmar’s younger self returns to his small, idyllic hometown of Edgewood, Md., to live with his parents for seven months until his marriage. During that time, four teenage girls with whom Chizmar has some connection (“They were friends of friends, siblings of friends, or in some cases, children of friends”) are murdered. In between writing horror stories and preparing the debut issue of his horror and suspense magazine, Cemetery Dance, Chizmar gets involved in the hunt for the killer. A hopscotch grid with mystifying numbers in the squares may be an important clue. Authentic-looking photos at the end of each chapter of such people as victims, police personnel, and ordinary residents of Edgewood reinforce the true crime conceit. Though the solution is somewhat obvious, getting to it takes the reader on a smart, entertaining ride. Chizmar should win new fans with this unusual tale. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Aug.)