The following is a review of Symphony of Blood: A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case by Adam Pepper.
Although I am a writer (and almost exclusively a reader) of romance, I do occasionally venture out into another genre – namely, horror. With only a few works of horror flash fiction under my belt, when I do read this genre I do so only in my capacity as a lover of fiction.
If you're looking for a book to quicken your pulse and raise your heartbeat faster than a double-shot espresso, Symphony of Blood, A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case by Adam Pepper is for you. An urban fantasy with an otherworldly twist that the author weaves seamlessly into the plot, Symphony immediately establishes itself as a gritty, witty detective story by introducing you to the character of Hank Mondale, a luckless private investigator with a small drinking problem and a large gambling problem – or is it the other way around? - who combs through bars, police stations and wherever else he needs to go when hired by a client with deep pockets and a deeply disturbing problem on his hands.
Some may say that the book leans on too many clichés from the troves of detective fiction. This is true as far as it goes, but Pepper gives fresh air to this journey into the familiar by employing quite a unique take on the novel's monstrous antagonist as well as making his characters into genuinely likable people rather than the cardboard cut-outs too often seen in dark fantasy. Though the story is light on sensory detail, this can be forgiven owing to the never-a-dull-moment pacing and the engaging dialog.
While flawed, on balance Symphony is a page-turning read both sexy and scary, with sections featuring the elusive monster giving me the same chills I felt while enjoying Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box. Adam Pepper's novel is a strong showing in modern horror and detective fiction – even for those like myself who don't normally care for the latter.