Book Review: Chasing Monsters by Paul Harrison

This is part of a blog tour organised by Love Books Group and Urbane Publications.

Chasing Monsters is the debut crime thriller novel by writer Paul Harrison. Harrison has spent much of his career working within the criminal justice system in the UK as a police officer, and has gained a remarkable insight into some shockingly violent criminals.

Chasing Monsters is set in a quiet suburb of Bridlington, where nothing much happens. However, after a mutilated body is discovered, the Eastborough Police Force is forced into action. As the number of murder victims begins to increase rapidly, DI Will Scott is put in charge of the investigation in a race against the clock to catch the killer responsible.

As a quick first impression, the genre of Chasing Monsters surprised me because of its use of supernatural language and imagery both in the title and book cover. You could be forgiven for thinking the book was a new fantasy / horror. The plot did have a small supernatural / religious undertone however, which may be foregrounded in later books and would explain this style of branding.

I also think it could be worth the author having another proofread of Chasing Monsters, as there were a few phrases that weren’t entirely clear, as well as some spelling / grammar oddities, which can be easy to miss!

Nonetheless, Harrison has written a good debut novel.

First of all, it’s set in Yorkshire – the perfect way to my heart, as a West Yorkshire lass myself!

It’s also evident he knows a lot about the subject matter; crime scenes, police protocol and murder victims’ bodies are always described with clear detail. In particular, the graphic descriptions of the mutilated bodies were always fantastically gruesome and I was left quite astounded that someone could think up such creative … murder methods.

As a reader, I could definitely feel the pressure building for DI Will Scott, as he desperately wants to stop the murder spree but can’t find new leads quick enough before the next body turns up, which I’m sure echoes the stressful nature of police work in real life.

Chasing Monsters gives nothing away early; the culprit is only revealed at the very end of the book, so if you enjoy a long, suspenseful wait then this would be a good book for you.

Personally, I think the book could have benefited from a few more hints at the murderer’s identity – dropped in subtly, of course.

In my ever so humble opinion, Paul Harrison has transitioned well from writing about true crimes to fictional ones, and Chasing Monsters was an enjoyable debut novel that I’m sure others will enjoy too.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Chasing Monsters is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith

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Halloween Book Review: The Grownup

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn is a short story about a young woman who works both as a fake psychic and a sex worker. She is hired to exorcise Carterhook Manor and, while she doesn’t believe in spirits or the supernatural, feels something is wrong with the house and its inhabitants – very wrong.

I thought The Grownup was a fun, contemporary story that pays homage to classic ghost stories and plays with the Gothic convention of the haunted house.

Given the protagonist herself is a con artist, it’s never clear who to believe or trust at any given moment, which is a reoccurring trend in characters from Flynn’s novels such as Sharp Objects and Gone Girl. Who’s a sociopath? Who’s a killer? Who’s a ghost? Who knows.

However, I felt The Grownup was too short (I know it’s meant to be a short story); the cliff-hanger ending was enjoyable but I was verging on feeling unsatisfied by the way things were left.

Do I think The Grownup is as good as Flynn’s other books? No.

Would I recommend to a friend? Yes – Gillian Flynn has fun with the genre and displays her skill at writing both novels and short stories.

– Judith

Halloween Book Review: The Black Cat

‘The fury of a demon instantly possessed me.’

‘The Black Cat’ is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, an American writer famous for his Gothic stories and poems.

‘The Black Cat’ is told from the first-person perspective of a man who adores animals. Subsequently, he and his wife own many pets – including a black cat, his favourite animal. However, once the narrator becomes drunk, he begins to behave increasingly violently towards his wife and pets, with uncontrollable intentions. The narrator is then haunted by the realisation of what he has done…

The key themes of ‘The Black Cat’ are insane and unreliable characters, the dangerous consequences of heavy drinking, and the burden of a guilty conscience.

I really liked ‘The Black Cat’. It was a quick read (as short stories tend to be) and well-written, containing all the traditional conventions of a Gothic ghost story.

As a fan of the Gothic genre, and contemporary horror writers like Stephen King, who was himself inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, I can’t believe I haven’t read any of his short stories until now.

I strongly recommend ‘The Black Cat’ for any fans of the Gothic, horror, or paranormal genres – perfect for reading in the run-up to Halloween.