Tom Deady's first novel, Haven, came along at the exact right time for me. I had been in the doldrums for quite some time. I was barely writing. I previously read a lot of extreme fiction, but I grew tired of it. I was in the difficult process of getting sober and reading wasn't giving me the same joy I always enjoyed.

Haven is a throwback to the days of the early '80s. Childhood fears, small town secrets, ancient evil. It's in the great tradition of debut books from Cemetery Dance Publications like Norman Partridge's Slippin' Into Darkness and Gary Braunbeck's Things Left Behind.

I read some of Deady's following books, but I didn't like any as much as Haven. I know authors don't care to hear that sort of thing, but that's the case with me and his books.

I took a chance with Deady's latest novel, Those Left Behind, when I saw him at Authorcon 3, in Williamsburg, VA this year.

First off, Those Left Behind gets a huge A for effort and sincerity. Tom Deady's story is ambitious and has the sort of wide scope I enjoy in books by classic writers like Rick Hautala and Ronald Kelly. Deady obviously loves and is influenced by Stephen King, but his writing reminds me more of Hautala. Not a bad comparison at all.

Still, I cannot fully recommend Those Left Behind. It's a little too long, the characters are a little too thin, and I came away feeling apathetic about the story.

Two boys are having a campout sleepover in the backyard. One leaves the tent to use the bathroom and all hell breaks loose. He is killed as are the surviving boy's mother, father, and sister. A man is arrested and found guilty, but many feel he is innocent.

Cut to years later. The boy, Danny is now grown and is leaving a mental institution. Against the wishes of his doctor, he moves back to his old house, where the murders occurred. There he begins to experience supernatural phenomena. Or is he not fully healed? Danny also finds a love interest and is confronted by a bully from his past. A true crime blogger joins the fray to discover who the killer really is and why the dead are trying to reach them.

Those Left Behind is a decent novel, and I rate it higher than most independent books I try to read, but again, the novel doesn't achieve much more than the average Zebra or Pinnacle level.

I'm not through with Tom Deady. I liked Those Left Behind more than his past few books of shorter works. If he keeps at it he may well write his own Summer of Night or December Park.

Written by Mark Sieber

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry