Today I’m taking part in a blog tour to bang the drums for a fairly new release – The Family, written by P.R. Black. The reason I let myself be roped in so willingly is that I’m familiar with, and quite a bit crazy about, the author’s work. P.R. Black is no other than Pat Black, whose stuff I’ve presented on my blog before, and who’s also a member of the Cake & Quill group. So far, he’s written a series of stand-alone novellas (look here and here for my reviews) and a few short story collections. The Family isn’t his first foray down horror/thriller avenue, but his first full-length novel.
Let’s just get straight into it.
The book starts in an almost classic fashion – with a flashback to the night Becky Morgan’s family died at the hands of a brutal killer – then does a fast forward to twenty years later, and Becky Morgan as she is today: a deeply troubled personality, somewhere between habitually drunk and hyper alert, a survivor with a death wish, as weary as she’s badass, held upright by sarcasm and pretty much anything she can grab. All we know at first is that she’s the only member of her family who escaped that night. She’s haunted by trauma and nightmares, and a burning need to solve the crime and see justice. Pat does an awesome job painting her character in credible, relatable colors.
In relation to her family’s killer, Becky sees herself as a loose end, expecting, knowing, that he’ll want to tie that end up. So her aim is, to find him before he finds her. Her job as an investigative journalist offers her the means, methods and connections she needs to dig into the past, to unearth the answers to the riddle she needs to solve in order to achieve her goal – Pat’s own journalistic background shines through here; he used to work as an investigative journalist at the start of his career, and it’s obvious he understands the subject. Many questions arise along the way – crazy lunatic or contract killer? Chance killing or deliberate targeting? Lone wolf or group? One time thing or serial killing? Whatever answers you, as a reader, will try to come up with as the story evolves, I assure you they’re going to be wrong. Pat isn’t a guy for linear plots, or predictable story lines.
I’ve read a few reviews over the past days, to check how other people feel about the book, and found two criticisms I thought I might address. One, that it’s pretty graphic. Well. Yes, and no. The killer is brutal, a torturer by nature, so yes, there is mention of some rather gory stuff people might consider unnecessary. But. Pat doesn’t go into describing it all in detail, so if at the end of the day you consider it graphic, you’ll mostly have your own imagination to thank for that. Two, that it’s a bit convoluted, with too many things happening to be real. Granted, there are parts that are slightly chaotic, information that seems to turn up out of the blue, and sudden jumps in location and/or time frame. One the one hand, I’ll admit that I occasionally found myself wishing for less fast a pace, on the other hand, the set-up is fully in line with Becky’s erratic personality. And: Everything happens for a reason. As I said, Pat isn’t a guy for linear plots. You have to pay attention, and, at times, suspend disbelief. The explanation will come. Just don’t expect it to present itself within the next page, or the next chapter.
All in all, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good fright, and isn’t squeamish. Keep the lights on. Make sure you’re not home alone. Here’s the link.