Saturday, November 07, 2015

Brief Mention, THE RECKONING, Vol. 3 of Niceville Trilogy, Carsten Stroud

The finale of Carsten Stroud's Deep-South gothic Niceville Trilogy came out at the end of the summer, and I devoured it -- I really needed to see how Stroud would wrap up the series, and there was a lot of waiting involved, as publication of THE RECKONING was delayed more than a year.

The blurb that fronts the book is from Stephen King and says, "An authentic work of American genius." I'd be happier with something more pointed -- say, a 21st-century follow-up to Faulkner blended with the malice and darkness of T. Jefferson Parker at his most wicked. Carsten's task in the final book is to decide how much victory Nick Kavanaugh and his wife Kate Walker will be able to salvage from a part-paranormal burden of horror and evil that sucks its energy Niceville. I completely bought the interweaving of Native American and plantation and greed -- enough to ride with the paranormal parts pretty contentedly. (Who hasn't entered a place that said "creepy" and known it was rooted in the history of what took place there?) Carsten's blunt caper humor that interrupts the tension is a bit heavy-handed, but deliberately so (think Westlake or Zeltserman). The book's startling in its shifts from one mode to the other, though.

Don't read this one unless you plan to read all three. (Check out this review of book 2.) And keep your expectations for the finale modest -- I found the endings a bit too neat, and a bit too sweet, considering all the tension and darkness that had gone before. But it's definitely worth the read, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the trilogy take its place as an American classic.

Oh. Maybe that's what Stephen King meant? Yeah. That works for me.

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