Author: James F.Broderick

Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
ASIN: B00H1N6JAY


As its title states, Stalked is a story of pursuit, the target of which is generally truth and specifically the existence or not of a nasty creature called the Indiana Corn Weasel.

The pursuers are a mother-and-son team, and the alien territory on which the pursuit is targeted is a small town in Indiana. The loving relationship between single mom, Kelsey Kane, and her 7/8-year-old son is at the heart of James Broderick’s totally compelling tale of collision between cultures, ideologies, and political and ethical philosophies. That all of this can be handled within the confines of a can’t-put-it-down suspense novel that is at once thriller, horror story, and detective yarn is a tribute to the story-telling and writing skills of the author.

Conflicts abound. On the side of faith, exploding evangelicals are at odds with Amish austerity; on a more realistic level, academia comes to grips with governmental power. Kelsey also has conflicts with a small-town local with whom she establishes a decidedly non-academic relationship. It’s all terribly exciting.

Broderick populates his story with a wondrous group of supporting characters, each etched with care and compassion. They not only don’t get in the way of, but actively assist in, driving the story to its shattering conclusion.

As his earlier works demonstrate, Broderick is a highly skilled observer and recorder of the human scene, be it real or fictional. He folds in exposition with the skill of a five-star chef adding beaten egg whites to a soufflé mixture; he drops in plot hooks like an expert angler.

Broderick is totally allergic to mundane and commonplace expression. Consider, for example, the following description of a dream on the verge of becoming a nightmare (the appreciative italics have been added by this reviewer):

She was in a small wooden boat, oars extended, bright sunlight refracting off the surface of a lake. She inhaled deeply, a whiff of pine, algae, and mint seasoning the air. She squinted at the sun, and then squeezed tightly her eyes, a kaleidoscope of light and color fragmenting and re-assembling with every blink. Her boat and her body were one, riding the surface of the water, feeling the soft undulations of current. A faint breeze brushed her downy arms, lazily extended over the edge of the boat, fingers tracing tiny circles on the skin of the cool water. Languid on the shimmering surface, she felt soft and warm and complete.

She felt the sunshine on her eyelids and her face and she brought her hands up to cover her eyes. She peered out through the lattice-work of her fingers, shafts of brilliant sunlight columning the sky. She lay there, half-dreaming, until the light suddenly faded. A phalanx of cloud now covered the sun, the sky a dark and queasy palette of gray and green.

Other flourishes of language are equally memorable, e.g., “tiptoeing along the tightrope of doubt,” “eyebrows practically vacated his forehead.” And how’s this for fun having? “She couldn’t just drag him along on some academic mongoose chase.”

The novel is a joy to read. Broderick writes with the eye of a reporter (which he once was), the heart of a parent (which he still is), and the pen of a master. Anyone who was thrilled by the heart warmth of Anna and the King of Siam, the suspense of Bad Day at Black Rock, the political intrigue of Seven Days in May, and/or the science fiction fright of The Creature from the Black Lagoon or The Thing is sure to find great pleasure within the pages of Stalked. That such disparate films could all be recalled in the course of reading Broderick’s latest work is a testament to the novel’s significant scope and wide appeal.

Broderick is particularly conversant with chambers of horrors having authored, under the title Now a Terrifying Motion Picture!, a stunning collection of analytical essays dealing with horror films based on earlier books. It would seem more than likely and eminently right for Stalked itself to be the subject of such a comparative essay some time soon.

At one point a character in Stalked expresses the intention of saving up stories for a later novel. Readers of Stalked should be grateful that the wait is over and just in time for year-end gift giving.

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