Review: Symphony of Blood

Symphony of Blood, A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case

AuthorAdam Pepper

Genre: Supernatural Fiction

From the Author’s Website: At times disturbing and grim, others raunchy and comical, Adam Pepper’s work is known for a unique blend of horror, suspense and speculative fiction.  MEMORIA, Adam’s debut novel, reached #1 on the Dark Delicacies Best Seller list and received rave reviews from Cemetery Dance and Chronicle.  “Super Fetus,” his outrageous Bizarro novella was called “In-your-face, allegorical social commentary” by esteemed reviewer, Paul Goat Allen.  His quick-hitting short work has appeared in genre magazines including THE BEST OF HORRORFIND, Vol. 2 and SPACE AND TIME.  Adam’s non-fiction credits span from NEW WOMAN MAGAZINE to THE JOURNAL NEWS.

Hank Mondale is a private investigator whose bad habits and trouble with the law blocked him from ever making it to his dream job as aNew York Citycop.  Days filled with drinking too much and gambling away money he doesn’t have make the job offer from a wealthy client almost a life or death situation.  When his new client reveals that a supernatural monster trying to kill his daughter, Mondale is not sure whether to stay for the money or run before it’s too late.  Desperate for the paycheck and assuming real estate mogul Thomas Blake’s daughter, Mackenzie, is likely spinning a dope-induced tale, Mondale takes the case.

As Mondale dives deeper into Blake’s story, he discovers that people around Mackenzie keep disappearing without a trace and that she and her father are clearly hiding more than just the threats to her life.  Has Mondale been hired to protect a clever murdering family or is there really someone – or something – to blame?

The early pages of the story made me think of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser – if he had continued on a self-destructive spiral into drunken debauchery – at least until things took a supernatural turn for the weird.  As I progressed to the second section of the book and learned more about Mackenzie’s stalker, I found Pepper’s stark and disturbing narrative made me cringe in distaste.

While I found this to be an eminently readable story with compelling characters and engaging descriptions, I still can’t decide if I liked it or not.  The protagonist of the story, Hank Mondale, has more bad habits than Charlie Sheen on a bad day.  Just when I started to think I might like him, he would do something else to make me cringe and question his sanity.  The only endearing character is Mondale’s childhood friend, Vic, who struggles to balance his loyalty to Hank with his dedication to his job as a cop with a heartfelt and genuine frustration.

For lovers of supernatural fiction who have a strong stomach for vivid depictions of gory situations, Pepper’s engaging dialogue and descriptions make for a good read, even if they don’t make for likeable characters.

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