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". . . insidious slow motion avalanche of chills . . ."
John Henderson’s life is quiet and ordered. He is a waiter in a restaurant who walks the two miles to and from work every day, drinks a couple of beers and smokes only on the deck outside the beach house where he lives rent-free, walks on the beach every morning and keeps to himself. It’s a small, ordered life.
It’s a big change from three years before when he and his wife frantically searched for their young son, Scott, only to find him on the jetty that stretched out over Murdo Pond and lose him moments later. Scott shouted, “Run, Daddy. Run!” pointed and fell over. He was dead before he hit the ground. Something exploded in his brain.
The strain of losing a child tore his marriage apart and sent him from Washington to Oregon and his wife and baby, Tyler, not far from the scene of their loss and heartbreak.
With just one email, John’s life changes, bringing back the past and forcing him to climb out of his safe little life to face what really happened in Black Ridge at Murder Pond.
With a bow to Stephen King’s Walking Dude, Michael Marshall launches into a seemingly benign story about a waiter who gets involved in his boss’s daughter’s business with her wayward, drug-dealing boyfriend, Kyle. From the moment John Henderson takes on the wannabe punks with calm assurance and skillfully restrained violence, it is evident he is much more than a waiter who looks forward to slacker Kyle’s absences so he can make the pizza. There is a dark secret in Henderson’s past that coils like a creeping fog to affect everyone around him, and probably more than one secret in Bad Things.
A drug deal gone bad is the first hint that the hidden depths in this mild-mannered man run deep into dark and forbidding waters. John Henderson is a complex man doggedly determined to face up to his past and deal with whatever problems crop up. He is chivalrous and intelligent and resourceful, assets that become more tangible as the story progresses.
Marshall fashioned a world where ancient evil is more than just an idea. There is a palpable force tainting everything with a subtle and pervasive dread slithering silently in the shadows that linger at the edges of the mind. Slowly, carefully Marshall allows glimpses of something dark, a faceless horror to rival Medusa and her sisters.
I was drawn quickly into Marshall’s nightmare world and couldn’t resist turning the pages, falling ever deeper under his spell and questioning the bad things that could come back to haunt me. The only flat note in this masterful symphony of horror and intrigue is the prosaic ending. I expected more and felt let down. However, the ending did not stop me from wanting to go back to Bad Things and revisit Black Ridge and the horror that infests its inhabitants just to feel the insidious slow motion avalanche of chills that kept me awake two nights in a row because I couldn’t put the book down. The only thing I want to know is where I can find more of Marshall’s malevolent cul-de-sacs.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell