Book Review: The Nightmare Man by J. H. Markert
One thing I enjoy about horror is that good writers can take familiar concepts and tweak them into new and original experiences. The Nightmare Man is one of these novels. In it, a bestselling horror author has a life-changing encounter with a disturbed fan. Stephen King, for example, has written at least four different books with this premise.
J. H. Markert has seasoned this book with a perfect blend of creepy and tragic ingredients: disappearances and bizarre killings occur in a usually sleepy town; a hidden supernatural legacy is revealed; family skeletons and marital problems add texture to complete a fresh, savory, and satisfying horror entree.
I cared about what happened to the characters, even though it’s apparent from the start that Ben, the author, is struggling with far more than writer’s block. I easily identified with Amanda, his wife, who’s trying to hold their growing family together, even as her husband’s involvement with developing events threaten to derail her own career. Things don’t add up, and Ben, Amanda, and daughter, Brianna, don’t realize the danger centered around Grandpa Robert’s strange old house.
Whatever dysfunctions Amanda and Ben have, the relationship between Chief Givens and his daughter, Detective Blue, has been even more deeply damaged. Markert has used sensitivity to explain the widening gulf that hampers their ability to solve this inexplicable and gruesome crime wave. Lack of communication and dependability endangers them both and the resulting suspense got my adrenaline pumping.
The Nightmare Man is frightening, gory, and has a number of triggers that are meant for the mature reader. There’s plenty of action and I couldn’t guess what lay in store for the main characters. I believe horror fans will love it.
I do thank J. H. Markert, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for a free advance reader’s copy, but I’m under no obligation to temper my review. The Nightmare Man is a terrific read and I enthusiastically recommend it.