It all starts so innocently. It is just a group of buddies meeting for a weekly poker game. No harm done-until the night an intruder breaks in while they are playing. They don't mean to kill him, that is an accident. They think if they throw the body in the river no one will ever know. That's where they are wrong. The intruder hasn't come alone. His friend is waiting for him outside the house and he sees it all. Suddenly the game has changed. What starts out as a simple poker game now becomes a game of cat and mouse. The stakes are raised too-to life and death. And it looks like the attacker in the shadows holds all the cards.
8 . 5 / 10
Not all short stories can be fleshed out to adequately fit the frame of a novel but Ed Gorman has magnificently managed to do just that with THE POKER CLUB.
The original theme and plot of the Subterranean Press '96 chapbook, OUT THERE IN THE DARKNESS, remains the same: four respectable suburban men learn deadly lessons in personal honesty and civic responsibility when they try covering up their accidental killing of a burglar and outwitting his vengeful accomplice who manages to escape them. Gorman uses the expanse of the novel format to further develop distinct personalities for his protagonists and evoke paranoid fears as their secure world of middle-class values grows increasingly unstable and violent. Better still, he fleshes out the anonymous and implacable accomplice who stalks them night and day. The lean, terse first-person narrative allows the reader to delve into the frightened and desperate motives of Aaron Tyler, the lawyer in whose house the killing occurred, and understand how easily the ordeal unhinges the lives of his himself, his family and three friends. Gorman's lean, terse prose is a perfect fit for both the thrilling suspense sequences as well as the poignant personal overtones of love, family and honor.
Ed Gorman, one of this generation's finest writers, has dealt his legion of readers a winning hand with THE POKER CLUB.
- - Ron Clinton, USA
Parkhurst is a fine Iowa town - pretty, well ordered and peaceful. Most of the time. But that peace is about to be destroyed forever. All it takes is a single day.
Writer Darcy McCain is not what you'd expect in an escaped convict. Gentle young women don't bust out of jail and hop freight trains with half the state police on their trail. But Darcy's serving time for murder and she's got one hope of overturning her conviction. Right now that hope is fading fast on a bed in Parkhurst...
Judge Carmichael lies dying while the March rain beats down outside. He's been a hard man in his life and a hard road lies ahead. But it's not death that troubles him now, it's his conscience. And whether he can speak his mind before his time runs out...
With her alcoholic husband in crisis and three daughters to support, Police Chief Amy Foster carries more than the burden of office. Now Darcy's on the run there's a manhunt on her hands. And, unless Amy can nail her quick, the lid might blow off a whole can of worms that she and her family have worked all their lives to protect. A can of worms otherwise known as the peaceful town of Parkhurst...
7 . 5 / 10
Ed Gorman follows up his classic small-town noir, BLACK RIVER FALLS, and subsequent thrilling action/suspense novel, RUNNER IN THE DARK, with this novel that combines the elements of both, though primarily revisiting the small-town dark underbelly. Unfortunately, THE SILVER SCREAM is a bit of an uneven mix.
Novelist Darcy McCain has just broken out of prison, her hopes for vindication buoyed by a letter she receieved in prison, a letter by a respected judge who hints at the knowledge of her innocence. She sets out to unravel the strands that caused her to be unduly convicted of murder and, along the way, discovers a vast framework of conspiracy and vigilantiism in her own backyard.
In the hands of another, less talented author, this novel may have been predictable and unworkable. In Gorman's exemplary hands, it is simply predictable. Gorman brings forth the usual trademark array of intriguing characters and sizzling dialogue, but his plot structure in this book leaves little room for surprise or misdirection.
While not up to par with his most recent other suspense novels, THE SILVER SCREAM is still a great read and a worthy addition to Gorman's stellar body of work.
- - Ron Clinton, USA
A shabby motel where husbands take their girlfriends is not a place where you'd expect to find a priest. At least, not a dead one with his tongue cut out. Former FBI investigator Robert Payne knows he's seen worse sights, but he can't remember when.
In life, Father Daly was an attractive man, particularly to his female parishioners - which might explain the gold earring Payne spots on the bedside table. In death, the priest is a potential scandal and Payne's job, he suspects, is to hush things up. The trouble is, if he doesn't catch the killer then Payne himself might be hushed up. Permanently...
The axe is heavy in his hands, moonlight glinting on the blade...
In Indiana the condemned fry at midnight. Men like Peter Tappley, a killer born to privilege and wealth, who lived in his mother's shadow and visited his hatred on trusting young women. Only his mother mourns him now.
Footsteps echo on the flagstones as he walks towards the cellar door. He knows what he must do...
Six years on from Tappley's execution, his ex-wife Jill is trying to live down the family connection. From time to time the media spotlight turns in her direction. Which is why she hires a private detective when she spots that her apartment is being staked out once again. But how is Jill to know that her problems far excees press harassment? That there is someone out there in the chilly autumn night who still blames her for her husband's crimes? And who is powerful enought to put her in the frame for atrocitites yet to be committed.
In the darkness his victim waits, too terrified to scream...
Who would want to kill a beautiful young woman like Alison? And why? Whatever happens, nineteen-year-old Ben Tyler will protect her...
It's not been easy for Ben. The boy the other kids always picked on. But now Ben has Alison and at last things are going his way.
Until he learns a secret so ugly that his entire life is changed. A secret that will destroy those he loves. A secret as dark and dangerous as the tumbling waters of Black River Falls...
Among his contemporaries, Ed Gorman is often cited as one of the best writers working in popular fiction today. And rightly so. Sadly, his talent and voluminous output is often ignored by a reading public hungry for the next bland bestseller. Perhaps BLACK RIVER FALLS, one of Gorman's very best, will work to change that inequity. Rich with vivid characterizations, sparkling dialogue and staccato pacing, FALLS is a relentless examination of a family torn asunder by duplicity and violence. Gorman's skill at creating tangible characters and storylines of dark, startling poignancy has never been so seamlessly displayed. BLACK RIVER FALLS is suspense writing in its most exemplary, undiluted form and, if there is any justice in this world, will garner a wider audience for an author whose acclaim is richly deserved...and, for the most part, long overdue. -- Ron Clinton, USA
There's a psycho on the loose...
When former FBI criminologist Robert Payne receives $10,000 in an unmarked envelope he knows there has to be a catch. The catch comes in the shape of a glamorous blonde. She wants Payne to find the man who killed her daughter.
...the kind who kidnaps little girls...
Macho is not Payne's style, he's more the laid-back type. But he's an expert in criminal profiling so he knows the kind of man he's looking for - callous, cruel and very clever.
...and feeds them to the beasts!
Payne keeps the money and packs his bags and sets off beneath the blood red moon...
BLOOD RED MOON introduces Ed Gorman's legion of fans - readers and scores of fellow writers alike - to an engrossing new series character, Psychological Profile Investigator Robert Payne.
Payne is a respected figure among police investigators whose skills are exemplary and reputation legendary. Gorman has fleshed out a fully-formed, intriguing character who exudes confidence and style yet whose humanity and approachable persona makes Robert Payne instantly likeable and sympathetic to even the most jaded reader. A refreshing change from many of the thrillers now in vogue - and, to some extent, even Gorman's own Jack Dwyer - Payne is not confused and/or alcoholic and/or tormented by personal tragedy; he is strong, capable and thoughtful.
In this first novel of his MOON series, Gorman has crafted a tale of procedural suspense featuring a murder in the Iowa heartland and of a family's tragic heritage...and those its lingering horror threatens to destroy. It's first-person narrative strikes a perfect chord for Payne's easy and natural investigative ability and charm.
BLOOD RED MOON is an admirable first installment of this exciting new series. While perhaps my personal preferences still lie with Gorman's dark, noir-ish small-town dramas (BLACK RIVER FALLS, etc.), this remains a novel not to be missed. -- Ron Clinton, USA
A life spent studying the worst kind of killers and sociopaths takes its toll on a guy. But ex-FBI invesigator Robert Payne works hard at being an optimist. Sometimes it's difficult.
Like when his client is a pretty Native American and her husband is falsely accused of murder and ritual maiming. Payne will bring to the case all his skills in the art of criminal profiling and up-to-date forensic techniques. He will do his damnedest to prove the young Indian is not responsible for the slaughter and mutilation.
Some things don't change in a hundred years. Like bigotry and prejudice and the yearning of evil men for the slick flowing river of another human's blood...
Two Indian women are found with their faces mutilated, an ancient practice of inflicting penalty for infidelity. Payne knows there's more - much more - to the case than appearances would suggest. He sets out to discover why these women were slaughtered and, in the process, finds a dark link to the town's frontier past...a secret a prominent family would kill to keep secret. This intriguing plot, with its parallel flashes to past events involving a young Indian brave, echo with assured mastery as only Gorman can deliver.
Always one to shatter preconceived notions, Gorman once again shows his incredible versatility and demonstrates that a sequel can indeed outdeliver its predeccesor. With the exciting maturing clearly evident in Robert Payne's character development and the MOON series itself, it will exciting to see what MOON Ed Gorman will explore next. -- Ron Clinton, USA
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