Author: Mary Maddox

Publisher: Cantraip Press

ISBN: 978-0984428106

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In spare unflinching scenes, Mary Maddox's offers up a bold and haunting debut novel with her Talion. Without doubt, there will be readers that will be genuinely disturbed by the cruel and sinister elements of the yarn that focuses on such themes as madness, murder, obsession, sadism, and lust. Nonetheless, after putting the book to rest, I had to admit that it does reflect some of the shocking elements of human nature that, unfortunately, are fundamentally present in our society and are often attributed to the darker side of human nature.

The tale is jump-started when Conrad (Rad) Sanders, using the pseudonym Jonathan Myers, checks into the Hidden Creek Lodge in the fictional town of Deliverance, Utah. Debbie and Hank Darlington are the owners of the lodge, and their beautiful teenage niece Lisa is visiting with them. While Lisa checks out the lodge's surroundings, she meets Lu, who lives in a trailer with her detestable step-mother Noreen and her alcoholic father, Duane. Lu is depicted as being inept and gawky, who is prone to delusional episodes, where she imagines herself communicating with eery creatures that she names Delatar, Black Claw and Talion. In addition, Lu wishes her step-mother were dead. Duane, who was down-and-out, was hired with his wife to do cleaning and odd jobs around the lodge by his old buddy Hank, who felt sorry for him.

As the story shifts to Rad, readers are exposed to the workings of a deranged and depraved character in all its complexity, who has committed horrendous acts. One caveat, if you are squeamish, I doubt if you will be able to stomach Maddox's detailed graphic and ghoulish descriptions of unspeakable acts that are not exactly suitable for polite everyday conversation. The boundaries of the noir with its mournful, gloomy and depressive elements are pushed almost to the edge of darkness. On the other hand, I have to admit that the novel's two hundred and eighty-eight pages are never dull or boring, as Maddox skillfully creates a shocking mix of the bleak atmospheric tones of the macabre with the supernatural, while holding onto the page-turning exhilaration of a real thriller with its superb tension and suspense. This is one haunting read that is sure to give you nightmares!

Mary Maddox teaches composition and literature at Eastern Illinois University. She has dedicated her book to her husband and who, as she states, had faith in her work even when she did not. I would tend to agree with her husband and I hope to read more from this fine author.


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with s, this is an adult thriller, with violence on par with Thomas Harris, and not for the squeamish. It was fast paced, compelling, and yes, frightening. Particularly horrifying to me was the easy way the killer gathered information about his intended violence victim through online surveillance. I thought the supernatural element in the story could have been more fully developed, but overall, this is an exciting and satisfying suspense nove