Symphony of Blood
$0.99, Digital Edition
Review by Darkeva
I’m not sure what it is about a good supernatural detective yarn that continues to draw me in repeatedly, whether it’s the combination of a police procedural (something I find uninteresting on its own) with a paranormal twist, or if it’s the latter that gives the former some punch, but I always find myself drawn to this type of narrative. Whether it’s Jim Butcher’s mega-popular Dresden series or the cult classic Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, I love a good supernatural detective story, and Adam Pepper’s Symphony of Blood proved no exception. Pepper’s story is a welcome addition to the crowded supernatural detective subcategory.
Private investigators and detectives usually fall into a few camps: there are those who have fallen from grace and suffer from vices such as alcohol or drug addiction and who have pissed off powerful people in the process, but their ultimate goal is redemption.
Then there are those who are straight-laced and want to see justice done because they’re so darn righteous and nothing evil can stand in their way. Of course, there are also those who have fallen from grace but don’t feel as though they owe anyone any apologies over it, and they’re monsters of a sort, just waiting to take out even worse monsters.
Pepper’s PI, Hank Mondale, falls into the first camp. He has problems with both gambling and alcohol, and although he could drink Charlie Sheen under the table any day, he hasn’t fallen off the rails so badly that it’s painful to watch. And with good reason, as that wouldn’t work for this particular tale, which sees Hank taking on an assignment from a wealthy bigshot, Blake, to save his nineteen-year-old daughter, McKenzie, from the (literal) monster that’s trying to kill her.
Some PIs have been fully immersed into the world of big bad creatures and know that things like vampires, demons, and witches exist. Mondale isn’t among their flock. He doesn’t believe McKenzie or her father and decides that she’s just a wee bit too fond of cocaine and alcohol and it’s causing delusions in her head, and her initial descriptions of the creature, Symphony, are vague and child-like as she tells him that he looks like a gross lizard, something that while it’s not inaccurate doesn’t initially make as big an impression on the reader until we see the creature and the second half switches to his point of view, an effective technique that explains all the mysterious goings on of the first act the only way the reader can be informed of them – through the creature’s eyes and memories.
Every mysterious disappearance that the reader wonders about reveals its answer when things switch over to Symphony’s thoughts, and soon we find out what happened to Mckenzie’s BFF, her boyfriend, the gardener, and many others that seem irrelevant at first glance. But it’s this child-like naïveté as well as an affinity toward animals that figures into Symphony’s relationship with McKenzie, as his point of view is much like a child’s. He learns to understand things like human emotion and to mimic our speech patterns to be able to pass himself off as human in addition to the shape-shifting abilities he uses to change his physical appearance. Soon enough, once it discovers the joy it finds after it satisfies its angry impulses by killing, it doesn’t want to stop, and the hunter, Mondale, becomes the hunted.
If you’ve been tiring of supernatural detective thrillers of late, try Symphony of Blood as the uniqueness of the creature will make you take a second look and may reignite your interest in an admittedly crowded subgenre, but one with at least a few gems that come along every so often. Symphony of Blood is one such gem.