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R.G. Johansen
A Message from Boo
A killer has arrived in Atlanta and set in motion a chain of events that can only be described as a roller coaster nightmare. Detective John Williams, a diehard Southerner has been tasked with solving the crimes, a job made more complex given his responsibility as a single parent to his preschool daughter, Boo. When you add a new, know-it-all partner straight out of the New York City Police Department to the mix, it makes matters even more difficult. Get ready for the twists and turns that pit the supernatural forces of good versus evil in a horror thriller that will keep you suspended until Boo reveals the truth.
Johansen’s epic mystery, steeped in the flavor of Atlanta and portents of the supernatural, finds Southern homicide detective John Williams paired up with Victor Lechman, a hirsute transplant from Brooklyn’s murder squad. The case: a series of murders that suggest an evil from beyond this mortal realm, as the cops face corpses mangled by a killer of terrifying strength, whispers of demonic possession, premonitions connected to their own pasts, and phenomena that even a skeptic like John can’t explain, like apparitions from the distant American past—or why when he’s placed under hypnosis he somehow speaks Latin.

Despite the horror elements, Johansen’s mode and form is the police procedural, personal division, as both of his detectives emerge as compelling, complete characters with distinct motivations. Divorcee John’s love for his daughter powers much of the novel’s suspense, and his amusing distaste for all things New York sets up an engaging, often comic partner relationship: “John rationalized that the pollution and noise had destroyed the brain cells of every citizen who lived in that acrimonious city,” Johansen writes. Still, he’s a warm, community-minded guy who teaches self-defense classes at the YWCA. Victor, of course, has a New York cop’s sharp tongue, but as the case goes and the partners become closer, John begins to suspect something may be off with him, a tension that Johansen adeptly mines.

The mix of down-to-earth procedural and the (apparently) supernatural may not be to all readers’ tastes, and the story runs long, but Johansen mostly hits the marks of both genres: here’s vivid crime scenes, interrogations, and autopsies; dustups with the department brass; and an uneasy but potent partnership all set against a convincingly detailed Atlanta. Add two cops haunted by their pasts—and quite possibly haunted for real, in the present—and you have a thriller likely to please crime and horror buffs alike.

Takeaway: In this epic procedural, an Atlanta cop faces a new Brooklyn partner, baffling murders, and possible demonic possession.

Great for fans of: John Connolly, Mary SanGiovanni.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-