Book Review – ‘Buried Memory’ (#2 Harbinger P.I.) by Adam Wright

Paranormal gumshoe strikes again.

Buried Memory (#2 Harbinger PI) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlilseGenre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Detective

No. of pages: 226

From Goodreads:

Whoever said that nothing ever happens in a small town clearly never visited Dearmont, Maine. It’s getting hotter than hell around here. When the dead start crawling out of their graves, you know something’s up. 

If there’s one thing I hate more than zombies, it’s having my memories erased by magic. That’s a real bummer, right? So when I get a chance to break the spell that’s locked away part of my mind, I take it, even if it means dabbling with ancient Egyptian sorcery. 

Big mistake. 

Sometimes you shouldn’t go poking at things that are buried. 

Because you end up having to deal with an army of the dead.

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This only felt like a mild improvement from the first novel. I wasn’t so much into the camp sexist machinations of our protagonist Alec. While I enjoyed the paranormal angle and his solving of mysterious cases, the machismo and constant attractive women swirling around him, eager to do his bidding had the feminist in me grinding my teeth.

The second half of the book was much better – it was so focused on the action, the author had no chance to waste on bravado and cliché. I don’t mind a bit of campy b-grade horror, but I really wanted something a little more original. I was going to say in the review for the debut that it reminded me of Charlene Harris of Sookie Stackhouse fame (but I have not read those novels and feel like it would be an insult) and again, I got that niggle, how there was an interwoven plot of mystical creatures and battles to be won.

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The arc with Alec’s assistant, Felicity, was cool. As too, the plot twist with his ‘flirtation-friend’ Mallory – both formidable women in their own right, but I feel like the author does not give them the space to really shine. ‘Buried Memory’ is still steeped in that Private Eye 1950’s era of a tough, wisecracking gumshoe who gets all the dames.

One thing did puzzle me though – given it is a detective novel, shouldn’t he solve some cases? He did in the first novel…. but in ‘Buried Memory’ when the Deputy asked him to look into the church that her dead mother had gotten involved with before her demise… well, after he palmed it off (as I find he tends to do a lot) was simply completely forgotten. Where was the plot of this story going? Instead we got an entirely different direction. I got a little steamed actually. There wasn’t even mention of it at the end of the book like it would be continued in the next instalment ‘Dark Magic.’

I’m starting to find, even though I feel the stories a little gauche, they are still engaging and highly entertaining in a ‘Vampire Diaries’ kind of way. I have a morbid fascination to find out what happens next – but I wouldn’t quite call it a guilty pleasure. I really feel if this collection of novels had a good content edit and a more feminine viewpoint inserted into the narrative they would be stellar reads.

Wright can construct a great action scene, build tension and pace, and manage to give you an unpleasant shiver over something unknown in the dark. So he has a lot of elements going for him and this collection of novels. Plus they are all around the 200 page mark in length, so easy to read in half a day. Not a great investment to get a fun, nostalgic kick.

So, I’d only recommend to those who love paranormal detective novels with plenty of machismo and campy fun. It’s totally like a b-grade horror noir film on the pages, and not to be taken too seriously. With all the nit-picking I’ve done to this series, the books are engaging, entertaining and highly addictive.

Here’s to seeing what kind of trouble Alec Harbinger P.I. gets into next…

Overall feeling: Things that go bump in the night…

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Lost Soul’ (#1 Harbinger P.I.) by Adam Wright

A paranormal detective story with a touch of misogyny and a lot of promise.

Lost Soul (#1 Harbinger PI) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlilseGenre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Detective

No. of pages: 226

From Goodreads:

Alec Harbinger is a preternatural investigator, a hunter of things that go bump in the night. When his employers, the Society of Shadows, banish him from his Chicago office to a small town in Maine, Alec thinks his career and life are over. How is a preternatural investigator supposed to find work in a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere? But when a local teenager comes back from a weekend at the lake with an altered personality, Alec is hired to investigate a possible demon possession. A young man turning up at Alec’s office insisting he’s been bitten by a werewolf adds to the caseload. And just to make his first day at the office perfect, Alec discovers that someone in the Society of Shadows is trying to kill him with ogre assassins. No work for a preternatural investigator in a sleepy Maine town? Yeah, about that…

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A Private Investigating franchise with branches all over the globe that everyone is familiar with – yet everyone is ignorant of, or doesn’t believe (in the preternatural) … um… contradictory much. Not the best premise to start off with. But this debut of the Harbinger P.I. series promises supernatural goodness with a wisecracking gumshoe.

The protagonist, and only detective assigned to backwater town of Dearmont, Maine: Alec feels like some old fashioned sexist sleuth. I chose to read this with some irony to keep it fun, like a satire of old Dick Tracey cartoons… even breaking out an overzealous accent at times when reading dialogue. Whaddya talkin’ bout? See?

He seem to objectify all the women he met – who just happened to be skinny and drop dead gorgeous. Weren’t there any normal women in this novel? And of course the assistant, Felicity Lake, did everything for him, all the menial tasks while Alec went about posturing, ogling and flexing his brain. It was hilariously awful. I can’t decide if this was badly written characters or camp overload. But it was oddly compelling despite these drawbacks.

Alec brokers a lot of deals for later favours. A little too convenient the way he makes friends/builds a team. Everyone seemed very amenable without having to go through the process of building up a friendship – and Alec did not seem nervous or too wary about it. It was all a bit contrived. It was easy to spot the hands of the author pushing the plot in a certain direction, and lost its organic feel.

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When going to investigate a forest by the lake for a case, Alec states he want to go in the morning to avoid stumbling around in the dark… and when he gets there, has to wait until dark to get his enchanted statue-compass-thingy to work. Doh! Chalk up another one in the column of inconsistencies.

Why weren’t these glaringly obvious mistakes picked up by a content editor or beta reader before publishing? The writing and plot felt a bit… well messy and amateur.

It didn’t help things that I identified a few grammatical errors too.

But enough of the negative critiquing – the action scenes were great. I was gripped, but there were small moments that were dropped that had me wondering if -‘d missed something.

The ending was a little trite, some things tied up neatly that sent me into an eye-rolling frenzy, and other elements were set up well to lead into the next book in the series.

Lost Soul’ is interesting. But short on world building. I still have no clue as to why the world in ‘Lost Soul’ is the way it is. There was a lot going on, plenty to keep my interest, so I wasn’t bored. Adam Wright’s writing style is a little dry, a touch sparse… and very… male. But it worked for that condescending tone of an old fashioned private detective‎ that this story was channelling. If you don’t take this seriously, it is fun. But if you’re a stickler for plot, grammar, and context, and not one to laugh at those B-Grade horror movies, ‘Lost Soul’ will feel like torture. This is written to a very certain demographic/niche.

I don’t know what inspired me to but this – it is certainly well out of my wheelhouse of regular reads. And an interesting journey. Maybe it was the gorgeous cover promising a dark paranormal mystery – massive battles against dark forces. Instead, it is more of a campy detective novel set in a world of witches, werewolves, fairies, demons and vampires.

I’m interested to see where the sequels will take us.

Overall feeling: This was… okay. That is all.

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.