Book Review: Little Town Blues
Reviewed by Jaylynn Korrell
A little town mixed with big personalities and a drop of evil mystery
The little town of Fryebury Falls is home to a flock of interesting people, all suffering in their own human ways. They deal with divorce, the death of loved ones, self discovery, parenthood, and much more. With just that, you’d think it was a just another small town drama, but there’s a darkness lurking over the town that they just cannot shake. The clairvoyant among them might even call it the devil himself, as the evil feeling runs deep enough to warrant the possibility of the devil’s return.
David Gonthier delivers a distinctive first novel in Little Town Blues that will stick with readers long after they’ve finished it.
Set in a fictional town outside of Boston, Little Town Blues is the story of a particularly strange few months in 1984 that the residents of Fryebury Falls experience. One where the newest cop in town begins to shake up a place that didn’t need anymore shaking. His unusual tactics to stopping crime cause people to believe that something just isn’t right with officer Cleary, and they aren’t wrong to think it.
You’d assume that the police chief, Mike Melanson, would put a stop to this, but he’s got a lot on his plate already. His wife, Miss Julie, is stuck in a theatrical disillusion that requires every word out of her mouth to be a reference to some play or movie. His best friend George Pearson is dealing with debilitating alcoholism after the death of his wife and daughter, and Mike himself is wondering if he should even still be a cop. These are just a few of the trials and tribulations citizens of Fryebury Falls are dealing with—and that’s not even mentioning the evil spirits that keep taunting them each day.
Gonthier’s writing truly shines through his eccentric characters in Little Town Blues. All with their own unique set of quirky personality traits and complex issues, the characters will have you feeling equally invested in each of their lives. I especially liked following the story of Miss Julie, which is the name she recently started requesting that both her family and friends call her. Her condescending personality is both outrageously annoying and endlessly entertaining. She cannot let go of the idea that she is too big for the little town she resides in. She brings the melodrama, that’s for sure.
Her story contrasts greatly to another gripping character in the book, Jack Cleary. His evil nature seems to be setting off an energy imbalance in the town. He, along with his 16 year-old son who has brain damage, are among the newest residents of the town. Cleary keeps his son and his loving dog locked away in the house, where the ghost of his ex-wife (who is also his cousin) aggressively haunts them. Perhaps it’s because he killed her that the angry thoughts in his head won’t cease. Or maybe it’s just the stronger part of who he really is. Gonthier has created a terrifying character in Jack Cleary that puzzles with every chapter. Because he’s capable of anything, each time his character pops up, I read with true trepidation.
While I wouldn’t necessarily call this book just a horror story, there are definitely horror elements that weave their way in and out of it. Along with Jack Cleary’s dead wife, the protagonist Moira gets realistic visions of her dead twin sister; the chief’s son Adam sees his deceased grandfather quite often; and George Pearson is visited by his deceased wife and daughter. Their presence alone doesn’t bring the horror aspect to the book, but the messages they bring with them do. Each is kind of calling their living relative to a mysterious event, one that will happen “real, real soon” and doesn’t seem very positive. With so many voices speaking up, it’s hard to tell which one will make true on their promise first and what they will guide their loved one to do. It brings about a very spooky feeling to a book that also balances a light-heartedness to it.
Gonthier gives readers a gripping mystery, a terrifying horror story, and an intriguing crime novel with dramatic flare in Little Town Blues. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Small Town
Print Length: 368 pages
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