November 8, 2013

Littlefield's Last Stand?: a review of Scott Nicholson's "McFall: Part One"

McFall (Part One)
by Scott Nicholson
Haunted Computer Books (2013)

Scott Nicholson brings back some familiar characters with his return to Pickett County and a return of the McFall clan ... sort of. Sheriff Littlefield, easing his way towards retirement, and a now eighteen-year-old Ronnie Day--and his friend/tormenter Dex McAllister--once again face death with the grizzly discovery of a corpse at the same time a rich land developer with the name McFall arrives with plans to turn the family plot into something civilized.

While goaded into jumping off a bridge into the cold river water below, Ronnie Day is the one who meets Larkin McFall moments before falling into the river and discovering the mangled corpse of a local. Ronnie is still suffering some of the after-effects from his ordeal in the pages of The Red Church with the fearsome Archer McFall, so seeing another McFall arrive kind of acts like a trigger. Ronnie isn't the only one with problems though, as his friend Bobby Eldreth who had his own traumatic experiences in Drummer Boy feels torn between his passion for music and his parent's pinning their hopes on his prospects as a professional baseball player.

Once again, Scott Nicholson's blend of small town America and big-time horror are poised for another showdown. I guess it should come as no surprise how organic these characters feel considering Scott wrote two novels already. Things are not jumping out of the gate lightning fast though, as this is a simmering horror, which he seems to work best with, and the callbacks to previous stories and established characters help ardent fans of his work. Newcomers shouldn't feel lost, though. There are years separating McFall from The Red Church and Drummer Boy, and enough of the history is doled out through dialogue and brief bits of exposition, serving as a helpful hand for the uninitiated.

Larkin McFall feels a little hand-wringy in his evilness so far, but the story has just started and I am really interested to see where the whole land development scheme winds up in the ensuing installments of this serial novel. Scott Nicholson has me hooked right now, so let's see if he can reel me in.

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