Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction

Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.

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Book Review: Carter and Lovecraft




From the Cover:

Daniel Carter used to be a homicide detective, but his last case -- the hunt for a serial killer -- went wrong in strange ways and soured the job for him. Now he's a private investigator trying to live a quiet life. Strangeness, however, has not finished with him. First he inherits a bookstore in Providence from someone he's never heard of, along with an indignant bookseller who doesn't want a new boss. She's Emily Lovecraft, the last known descendant of H.P. Lovecraft, the writer from Providence who told tales of the Great Old Ones and the Elder Gods, creatures and entities beyond the understanding of man. Then people start dying in impossible ways, and while Carter doesn't want to be involved, but he's beginning to suspect that someone else wants him to be. As he reluctantly investigates, he discovers that Lovecraft's tales were more than just fiction, and he must accept another unexpected, and far more unwanted inheritance.



First Impressions:

            CARTER & LOVECRAFT holds no punches, snatching the reader by the throat with the first line. The weird factor immediately lives up to expectations and while the reader is inundated with questions, it isn’t hard to turn the pages, anxious for answers. Daniel Carter is a well-crafted character; straight-forward with no frills or deceits. The readers trust him to guide them through the narrative which promises to be full of twists.



The Best of It:

            Howard comes across as a master of the subtle approach to “something strange is going on.” There are no obvious arrows to the unusual nature of the town of Providence and its residents, only small clues. It shows how much faith Howard has in the reader, that they will follow, nabbing clues like bread crumbs. A bell that rings a second too long, a creak in the floor, and a man that just doesn’t look right all contribute to an overall feel of unease in the greatest sense of the word.


            “The world whirred on, and everything made sense.” What a loaded sentence that was.



The Worst of It:

            It’s not difficult to imagine there are Lovecraftian homages throughout the narrative, given the title. But for someone who hasn’t read Lovecraft or is only vaguely familiar with his work, it feels like they’re missing a layer to the narrative which can be distracting at times. However, it’s interesting enough to want to read Lovecraft, and then come back to read CARTER & LOVECRAFT again just to hunt the Easter eggs down.



Yeah, But What if it Were a Movie?

            Howard all but did this part of my job for me. Emily Lovecraft is described (by Carter) as being played by Zoe Kravitz while her boyfriend, Ken Rothwell, is more of an Aaron Eckhart. Carter is described as having “the face of a poetic boxer” and so immediately cast him as Russell Crowe. William Colt is given a more subtle description as “the man who was on MTV a lot, singing a song about running along a road that didn’t go anywhere.” While I couldn’t find the exact reference, Colt reminded me of a young Michael Pitt, circa Murder By Numbers. Creepy and intelligent, but not exactly clever.   



Show Stealer:

            Take mathematics, Lovecraft, a bookstore, and a serial killer hunting kids, mush them all together and you’ve got a clusterfuck. The show-stealer in this novel is the effortless way Howard plucked the seemingly unrelated strings, played us a little tune, all while we were wrapped up in the insanity of it, not realizing the strings had us trapped. Once the connections are revealed and we can see the trap for what it is, the effect is immensely satisfying.



Final Impressions:

            CARTER & LOVECRAFT is a great book in that it takes all the things that makes other books great in their genres—detective story, science fiction, fantasy, a little romance—and weaves them into a tapestry that’s impossible to look away from. I read this story from beginning to end in one sitting and couldn’t quite figure out why I’d become so fascinated. Maybe it was the Twist. Or the Fold. You decide.  

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