18 May 2012
Niceville; Carsten Stroud
Niceville by Carsten Stroud
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A book that includes this passage in the first few pages is a winner: "At 1513:55, Rainey Teague is right there. At 1513:56, the kid is gone".
Sadly, that opening and the tension surrounding the disappearance of Rainey disappear in the next few chapters. There are five main strands here: Rainey's reappearance and subsequent catatonic state, the bank robbery in Gracie followed by the killing of four policemen and two reporters, the mischievous malice of Tony Brock, several disappearances of older members of the town's founding families, and a mysterious Frisbee sought by the Chinese. Ultimately the strands intertwine, with the resolution to each story somehow tied into the weirdness/evil at Crater Sink. There are several moments of "wait - that's not what I thought would happen" (always a good thing) but also several moments of "just get on with it, I've read this before".
Niceville is trying to be a Southern Gothic version of Stephen King's Maine but gets bogged down in florid, overly adjectived description. Had that been toned down, this story of a city with an evil undercurrent (179 unexplained disappearances since 1928, an anomaly given the size of the population) would have been far creepier.
ARC provided by publisher.