After a Good Samaritan intervenes in a public episode of child abuse he soon realizes he’s bitten off more than he can chew. The perpetrators have a relentless intent on seeking revenge in the most unholiest of fashions.
The Nightmare Girl marks the inaugural reading endeavor I’ve undertaken for author Jonathan Janz. Countless novels are assigned for review on a monthly let alone annual basis. Many I’m pleased to say are writers I’ve become accustomed to and consider my go to novels every bit as much as Stephen King, Dean Koontz or Robert McCammon. Naturally some are a hit and some are not quite as much. I’m pleased to say the works of Jonathan Janz was compelling enough to keep coming back for more.
Janz’s style and prose through dialogue reflects realism and reigns true in this case of a married interaction. The banter back and forth between lead protagonists Joe and Michelle Crawford if often humorous and a welcome break from the doom and gloom often associated with genre fiction. The rapport between Joe and Police Chief Copeland provides hilarity at its finest. Their verbal volleying is infectious making this story a certifiable page turner from the get go.
The delicate blend of exposition, action and emotion lures the psyche deep into the literary fray. On a virtual subconscious level The Nightmare Girl becomes addictive readily digested within two to three sittings. The tale flows brilliantly forever escalating to a spell binding climax.
Perhaps what is most intriguing about Janz’s characters is the exploitation of their darkest, most depraved inner sanctum type thoughts. While their inner most intimate reflections seem ghastly in nature they seem to broach upon a nerve that hits very close to home. We’ve all ventured into psychological waters we’re not particularly proud of yet the characters within seem to accentuate their fallacies in a way that makes them empathetic. Joe’s impure thoughts of Angie makes The Nightmare Girl a scandalous infectious reading adventure bar none.
Most admirably the style in which this expose is crafted harnesses all of the scents not exclusively to sight and sound. Quite often touch and sense of smell is highlighted creating a dramatically vivid picture that places the reader directly into the midst of action. The imagery that is depicted visually however is visceral, grisly relentless terror. The gore is celebrated in near Spatterpunk type grandiose and will disappoint few.
Fans of Easter Eggs or subtle hints within the genre fiction will get a kick out of Joe R. Lansdale novel, The Night runners being read by one of the main characters. It’s an obvious tribute and a testament of Janz’s tastes making him a likeable individual without uttering another solitary word.
A reoccurring subtext is the concept of hesitation, regret and having second thoughts. Joe grapples with doing the right thing that ill-fated day at the gas station. Angie and Sharon struggle with very personal remorse in having lost their off spring. Without engaging too much deeper into plot spoilers these instances mark only a couple of examples of the act of hesitation.
Main protagonist Joe Crawford’s views of contemporary, organized religion will strike a chord with a large reading audience. Although controversial on the surface many readers will certainly relate drawing a larger, marketable demographic in satanic type genre horror.
The final act that is unleashed is utter carnage that even the most seasoned of stunt coordinators would be boggled to compose if adapted into a film version.
I look forward to additional works of Jonathan Janz as I do believe the must read list is perpetually growing.
By Dave Gammon