Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Carter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

Dan Carter is a cop, or at least he was a cop until he watched his partner commit suicide just after the two took down a notorious child serial killer.  Now he's a private investigator, but Carter is finding that chasing after cheating spouses is not as exciting as all those Raymond Chandler books make it sound.  So when he inherits a bookstore from a man he's never even heard of, he heads off to Providence, Rhode Island to check things out.

Turns out that the bookstore is managed by Amy Lovecraft, niece of the deceased owner, and descendant of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.  This is not a fact of which Amy is particularly proud - she finds Lovecraft's prose less than wonderful, his racist views abhorrent (she's African-American), and the constant stream of Lovecraft groupies who come to the bookstore like pilgrims flocking to a holy site don't exactly add joy to her life.  And now she has a new boss.  

But H.P. Lovecraft, for all his flaws as a writer, was apparently on to something, and as Dan and Amy begin to make connections between seemingly random events, they are very quickly caught up in a mystery with ramifications for the entire nature of reality.

Now, I admit to being a fan of Lovecraft's concepts (though I'm with Amy on the quality of his prose),  so I was predisposed to like Carter & Lovecraft.  What I didn't expect was to absolutely love it, and, in places, to be terrified to turn the page.  Howard does a great job in creating tension, and the characters of both Amy and Dan are compelling.  There's snappy dialogue, pop culture and literary references, and a nice mix of supernatural and science so that the monsters (and there are monsters) are believable.  No waving tentacles here, just a great modern horror tale.

 If you like Lovecraft-inspired horror, you should also check out Laird Barron's The Croning  and pretty much anything by Caitlin Kiernan particularly her short fiction.

Review by Becky D.

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