Cry of the Fallen is a paranormal thriller with a ballsy (understatement!) female lead character who has an awful lot on her plate. Her husband has left her, taking her daughter, the town she lives in is facing the onslaught of a vicious serial killer and she seems to annoy people wherever she goes.
As Lauren takes on the evil attacking Cottonwood, it becomes apparent that this goes far beyond a psychotic killer and that, in fact, this sleepy town in Arizona is caught up in a battle between good and evil.
There are some genuinely chilling moments in Cry of the Fallen and some truly unnerving lines including “I can smell your living flesh” and “I have come to dispose of the Madness next to you”. There are also moments of dark and macabre amusement, notably captured in a scene which sees one character having a tea party with two corpses! Joel M. Andre can certainly paint a frightening picture and conjure up nightmarish characters.
However, that does not mean that the book is without its weaknesses. At times there appear to be inconsistencies or irregularities in the actions of the characters. For example, one character suffers the loss of a family member and Lauren’s response is to take him to a diner for some food! Similarly, at times dialogue can feel a little stilted. At these moments it seems that these are weak links holding an otherwise fine story together but that being said, in books, as in life, there are always weak links and for the most part stories continue to run along smoothly.
If there is one area that is more difficult to overlook it is the way in which Joel M. Andre deals with the mental health of one of the characters. This character displays some erratic and deeply disturbing behaviour and it is stated that people protested against her hiring originally due to a nervous breakdown she suffered when she was in college. She is described as “A woman with only a thread of sanity…”. There is no doubt that the character portrayed in Cry of the Fallen is insane but the implication that she was always just one step away from insanity because she had had a nervous breakdown previously has the potential to upset a number of people, particularly with the suggestion that hiring someone who had been in that position would be a mistake. I appreciate the turn the author has taken with the story here but it has certainly led to shaky ground.
Nonetheless, it would be extreme to condemn a book on the basis of two or three paragraphs and it doesn’t detract from the fact that this is an entertaining story. Lauren is certainly the strongest character and her no-nonsense attitude sees her deliver some excellent put downs. Joel M. Andre has also given the killer some memorable lines too, including the unforgettable ‘Don’t f**k with my boots’. The use of dark humour to take the edge off some graphic and violent scenes ensures the book never becomes too heavy.
Cry of the Fallen ends quite abruptly but in a way that suggests either that there will be more to come or that you have to draw your own conclusions. It would be nice to see more of the fearless Detective Bruni. It’s a relatively short read and potentially lengthening it a bit could help reduce that awkward feeling in some areas, not to mention give readers a chance to see Lauren bust a few more balls. I would certainly keep an eye out for future works from the author and hope that Lauren Bruni becomes a more regular addition to our bookstores.
Review copy received as part of the Partners in Crime Tour.