My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.

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Review: The List

The List – J.A. Konrath, 2009. Rating:  3.5

Clones, ostriches, and inflatable butt donuts (yes, you read that correctly) combine to make a fast-paced and successful (you read that right, too) thriller with a surprising bit of heart.

Chicago homicide detective Tom Mankowski is disconcerted to find a murder victim—a gruesomely murdered victim—with a number 7 tattooed on his heel. Tom has a number 5 on his own heel. After being viciously attacked at the crime scene, Tom and his partner, Roy, track down another numbered soul (see what I did there? soul? sole?) at a fishing lure convention. Bert explains that he and Tom are clones: Tom is a replica of Thomas Jefferson, and Bert is Albert Einstein. The trio is attacked again, Roy suffers a butt injury, hence the donut, and they head off to Albuquerque to meet the doctor in charge of their cloning project. He runs an ostrich farm. Well, briefly. Tom, Roy, and Bert learn that evil clones of Atilla the Hun and a couple of other historic baddies are trying to eradicate them all. The ragtag team splits up to rescue Joan (of Arc) and Abe (one guess) and together they rush to stop the mastermind behind a diabolical plot to take over the presidency and start an international war.

Deep inhale. I know. This sounds far-fetched. Goofy. Cliché in spots. Yes, The List is all of those things. But is it fun? Entertaining? You bet. Tom and Joan enjoy a cute opposites-who-share-the-same-values-deep-down romance, plus Joan’s got mean martial arts skills. Roy and Bert share a priceless sibling frenemies vibe. Konrath brings an engaging, puckish sense of humor to a plot that involves impalement and kidney transplants.

The List is one of those guilty-pleasure reads, like eating those Girl Scout Samoas that weigh in at 8 grams of fat/serving, that you know you shouldn’t have and sure as heck don’t want your holier-than-thou health-conscious friends to see you eating. But darn it, they’re tasty. The List is like that: a quick, satisfying bite. Suspend your disbelief, squash your inner critic, and have some fun with this over-the-top thriller.

rating system three and a half crows

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Review: The Others

The Others – Jeremy Robinson, 2018. Rating 4/5

Willingly suspend your disbelief and you’re in for a crazy-fun ride along the 37th parallel with PI Dan Delgado and his ragtag team on a quest to find a missing child.

Along with his elderly office assistant, a gun-toting pastor, and a fast-talking young Uber driver, Delgado travels to Colorado City, AZ following the trail of an abducted girl. The question soon becomes…abducted by whom…or what?

And Delgado isn’t the only one searching. Some heavily-armed and very skilled paramilitary teams are now after him.

The Others is a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream. A brainwashed polygamous sect, UFOs, cattle mutilations, empaths, nanites, greys, government cover-ups, a secret underground base…The Others has it all.

We’ve got plenty of shoot-outs and alien encounters. A righteous cause. Truly funny bits. Characters with just enough depth to save them from being cartoony: Delgado, for instance, is dogged by a personal tragedy that ultimately strengthens him. By the end, hearts and minds alike are opened.

The Others is good-humored and good-hearted. When you pick it up to read the next chapter, you get a weirdly upbeat, anticipatory feeling, like you’re about to eat a plate of your favorite cookies while watching an old-time, action-packed T.V. show from your childhood. Like, maybe the A Team. And that’s a good thing.

rating system four crows

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Review: Keep Out!

Keep Out!  Nick Redfern, 2012.

If you’re not yet paranoid about government conspiracies and cover ups, you will be, just a little bit, after taking Redfern’s lively tour of ominous secret bases and clandestine projects.

Devoting a chapter to each locale, Redfern begins our journey into the weird by exploring two landmark UFO sites: Area 51, where in 1989 Bob Lazar claimed to have worked with alien technology; and Hangar 18 at the Wright-Patterson AFB, which is allegedly both home and detainment center to live aliens.

Redfern’s hush-hush locations then run the gamut from moon bases to the London Underground (which may populated by subhumans and massive black panthers).  Noah’s Ark, supposedly recovered from the Nazis, could very well be stored in a secret Smithsonian vault.  Aliens quite possibly control a U.S. underground establishment in Dulce, New Mexico.

These scenarios all seem to be the fantasies of reclusive, tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy freaks, and waaay out of the realm of rational possibility.  That is, until Redfern produces a tantalizing snippet of information: a quote, interview, document, or reference that corroborates a part of the story.  This teasing bit of truth creates just the shadow of a doubt in the reader’s mind.  Could chupacabras and underwater UFO bases in Puerto Rico be possible?  Redfern clearly takes some pleasure seeding that uncertainty.

Keep Out!  is good fun.  It makes for fascinating, if potentially alarming reading.  Redfern takes the far-out rumors and stories with a grain of salt; agreeing with the reader that yes, this does sound crazy, but…allowing for the possibility of some truth in there.

We delve into time travel, teleportation and invisibility at Camp Hero in Montauk, the Long Island source of the Philadelphia Experiment rumors.   We learn about the bizarrely connected deaths of microbiologists attached to Britain’s Porton Down laboratory, the equivalent of our Fort Detrick, which used to (used to…or does still…?) house the U.S. bioweapons program.

Redfern even examines HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Alaska, which arguably does positive scientific things like working to enhance technology for radio communication and analyzing variations in the ozone layer.  But is there a sinister side to HAARP?  It may be testing mind-bending EM fields.  It may be creating earthquakes or tsunamis in order for the United States to gain access to countries with natural resources that we covet.

Keep Out! Is entertaining as all heck.  And it isn’t all just crazy conspiracy theory stuff. Redfern clearly put some serious research into each location.   His bibliography is extensive and includes FBI records, US Army and Air Force reports, DOD briefings, and articles from mainstream news publications: Not just a handful of wackadoo websites. That makes the reader take a little pause.  Redfern probes – oooh, I went there! – each location with roguish enthusiasm, fanning the flames of paranoia.  Raising lots of unlikely questions.  What if...?  A highly engaging read!