Blood Moon Fever
By Connal Bain
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Crime … Corruption … Werewolves. Just another day in LA.
David Goodwin isn’t having a good month. Sent on a manhunt after escaped felon ‘Hard Time Jake’ Griffon, he finds he has bitten off more than he can chew as he moves from the wooded Northern California wilderness to the mean streets of LA in pursuit of a man who has become something beyond human.
During Griffon’s bloody prison break, something happened in the woods of the Modoc Forest. Something inhuman. Something evil. Something terrifying.
Now, as the full moon prepares to rise over the City of Angels, Goodwin must piece together elements of a puzzle involving a fugitive on the run, a crooked lawyer, a violent drug cartel, and a string of bloody corpses left in the wake of an ancient terror now awake and hungry for fresh carnage.
Combining the hard-boiled realism of Jim Thompson with the gritty horror of Jack Ketchum and Clive Barker, Bain introduces a new brand of horror noir.
Savagely dark and wildly inventive, Blood Moon Fever introduces a powerful new voice to horror and crime fiction.
Review: Blood Moon Fever by Connal Bain is an action-packed and fresh approach to the lycanthrope story genre.
Here Mr. Bain gives the reader a story that flows well, he provides us with believable characters, and for once we get a story about werewolves with a link to Native American mythology that feels more realistic, more plausible and gives an effective backstory that sets this story a world-apart from the whole Beauty and the Beast plot-line that inundates so many stories with paranormal topics. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the whole paranormal-romance genre but it’s also nice to read something that isn’t entrenched in that genre that still deals with this particular paranormal entity.
Jake Griffon isn’t a good guy, not at all. He is an inmate at the Redwood State Penitentiary, doing hard time for theft and murder. But his days are numbered because the cartel he stole diamonds from has put a contract out on him and prison won’t stop them from getting to him. In there, he’s a sitting duck!
In walks attorney Rachel Lewis, a tough woman who doesn’t exactly live by the law herself and who is facing potential disbarment for her own activities. She offers Jake a way out of his predicament…for a price.
Neither of them could predict how the events that would unfold the night of the prison breakout as the blood moon rose into the sky would change both of their lives forever; setting set their life paths and that of an FBI Special Agent on an unexpected trajectory. So begins our story….and that is as much as I will give away.
I enjoyed the pace of Blood Moon Fever, Mr. Bain has a nice natural flow to his writing and I found the dialogue between characters to be particularly believable. Conversations flowed well and felt natural. And while I have read a comment from another reviewer who did not particularly like “the language” in this story, I found it to be appropriate and believable for these characters. Jake, Rachel, FBI Special Agents and Cartel members aren’t Pollyanna’s; they live and breathe the criminal element. They simply would not have PG or PG-13 language. Having these characters speak in a manner that is more genuine to their circumstances simply feels more believable.
I’ve said some good things about this story right? You may be wondering why I only rated it at 3 out of 5 stars. Well here’s why…it’s not finished. I wish it was, had it been I would have rated it higher.
Perhaps Mr. Bain intends to do another story to follow this up. Okay, I can buy that and run with that possibility but even so, this book remains unfinished.
When this story ended I was left feeling that it was only about three quarters of the way through the story arc; it ends far too abruptly even with the epilogue which is extremely short. The best way I can describe it is this…it felt as if I were watching a movie on television (which this probably would do well as)….and the movie ended at a commercial with 20 minutes left to go. We have the climax of the story and it ends. There’s no resolution or tie-up. To this reader if felt as though there was an entire chapter missing before the very short epilogue, or perhaps the epilogue needed to be longer and refer back to the story in contemplation of what had happened and how that particular character ended up where he was. I’m not sure, that would be up to the author of course….but more needed to be written.
Along with that observation there are some editing and formatting issues that need to be addressed. These are simple things such as: misspelling, paragraph and eBook formatting inconsistencies, and chapter formatting. It’s perfectly fine to break a story into sections, but each section shouldn’t begin with Chapter 1. That would make the Table of Contents confusing. Oh and speaking of the Table of Contents, there wasn’t one of those either and there should be. Formatting issues like these prevent the story from flowing as well as it should and present the story in a less than professional light. This is why I urge so many self-published authors to use a professional editor and book formatter. These professionals know what to look for and what to help correct for the author so someone like me won’t be pointing them out in a review. Although I will say, I did not weigh these when it came to my star rating of the story itself…just in my opinion of the entire finished product.
So, as always I will ask myself “would I recommend this book”? Yes, I would.
I would like to see the author re think the abruptness of the ending or set it up for a follow-up but I do think it was an interesting read that fits well into the thriller genre. It’s a quick read (took me about three hours) that does keep you reading and I never felt I had to force myself through any slow spots. Those are all good things that would prompt me to say “read it”. So, read it….and tell me what you think of it as well.
About the Author
Connal Bain is a freelance writer and novelist living a peripatetic life in the Western United States. He has worked as a journalist, long-haul truck driver, short-order cook, labor organizer, and bookstore clerk, among other odds and ends. Traveling from job to job around the great American West has provided him the opportunity to spend much of his free time writing, often gathering story and character ideas from his experiences on the road.
An avid reader from an early age, he became a horror and mystery enthusiast upon discovering a treasure trove of paperback originals in his parents’ basement in junior high school, beginning with John D. MacDonald and Manley Wade Wellman and working up through King, Herbert, and the late great Jim Thompson.
His fascination with all things dark and creepy grew as he expanded his tastes to the classics and the pulps, always finding pleasure in the genre at hand. This brought him a great respect for the printed word, regardless of the merits of canonical “literary” value. Always in search of a tale well-told, he began writing his own detective and supernatural horror stories in high school, and has been writing ever since.
Water ran down the bathroom sink drain, stained red and then pink before finally running clear. Griffon splashed water on his face, clearing away spots of blood and bits of flesh and hair. He ran handfuls of water over his hair, slicking it back with his fingers before looking into the mirror over the sink. He turned his head from left to right, mesmerized by the return of normalcy to his features, then wiped the sink clean with his hands before turning off the water.
He grabbed a towel off the bar mounted to the wall and glanced at the slip of paper resting on the toilet tank. A Home Depot invoice with a photocopy of a returned check attached. He studied the name and address on the check copy while he dried his hands.
“Well, pleased to meet you, Mr. Hollister,” he chuckled, crumpling the papers and burying them beneath a pile of used tissues in the trash next to the toilet.
He froze, listening intently. Moving silently out of the bathroom, he slunk to the living room and stood still, listening. A light breeze blew in through the open windows, stirring the mesh curtains. He turned to the front door and dropped into a crouch. For a moment, the only sound came from the radio in the kitchen. Suddenly, the door crashed open, swinging from broken hinges. Tear gas canisters crashed through the window screens, filling the room with a haze of chemical smoke. Black-clad SWAT team members burst through the door frame in respirators and full body armor. Beams of light crisscrossed the room from flashlights clipped under the barrels of their assault rifles.
Griffon whirled as the back door shattered and more SWAT officers swarmed in. Smoke rapidly filled the room.
“On the ground! On the ground now! Hands behind your head. Do it now!”
Griffin let his face go slack and complied. One officer stood over him, the barrel of his M4 aimed at his head while another landed with one knee on his back and cuffed his wrists behind his back.
“We clear?” said the man aiming at Griffon.
“We’re clear,” said a voice from the kitchen. “Sir, you’d better come back here.”
The team leader stepped away from Griffon’s prone form, another officer immediately stepping into his place. He crossed to the kitchen where a group of officers were huddled, staring at something partially hidden by the door.
The walls and counters were bathed in streaks of blood and gore, running in the crazy patterns of a psychotic abstract painter. Behind the island counter, a pair of nylon-clad legs protruded, ending in bloody knobs where they had been torn off at the knees. White bone and cartilage glistened under the florescent lights.
To call the room an abattoir would be an insult to abattoirs. Bits of flesh and muscle lay scattered across the floor and a slimy blood trail led around the corner to the side.
“Where’s the rest of her?”
“Something over here,” said another officer in a shaky voice, pointing at the sink.
The team leader walked to the sink, sidestepping the pools of blood on the floor. He peered inside, ignoring the gagging sounds from the other men in the room. In the sink lay an eyeball, a gangly network of nerves still attached. The blue iris stared back at him, the whites shot through with a spiderwebbing of thin red lines.
“What the fuck did he do to her? Check the knives, power tools. Everything. Anything. There’s still a lot of body missing.”
“Sir,” said an officer standing at the edge of the blood trail at the opposite end of the kitchen. He vomited into an empty evidence bag and stepped back. The team leader edged the crime scene and peered around the corner.