Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Book Review: Listen to the Shadows by Joan Hall Hovey, review by Aaron Lazar

Author:  Joan Hall Hovey
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Suspense, 298 pages
Price: Kindle eBook: $3.99
Author’s personal website: http://www.joanhallhovey.com

I must say right up front that I have been a fan of Joan Hall Hovey since I read CHILL WATERS a few years ago. After that, I sought each release with the same excitement I do for new books by bestselling authors like Dean Koontz. I’ve read all of Ms. Hovey’s books, and simply loved them.

That’s why it was so fascinating to read Ms. Hovey’s very first novel, LISTEN TO THE SHADOWS, which is now available as an eBook.

Completely aside from the entertaining plot, from a writer’s point of view I enjoyed glimpsing the emerging elements of this grand lady’s talent in her early work: the wonderful scene-setting, the bone-chilling fear she instills, the creepy villain(s), and the underlying romantic tension. Although not as developed as her current day works, the story was most enjoyable, and I found myself flying through the pages to discover what would happen to her likeable protagonist.

The plot is intriguing: artist Kate Summers is stalked by an unknown assailant; a definite nutcase who tortures her in a very disturbing fashion, setting up straw figures in her car and home to horrify her at the most unexpected moments, lurking in the background, in those decidedly frightening shadows. And to balance that creepiness, there’s a dark and troubled yet quite intriguing psychiatrist to whom Kate Summers is drawn, a nice counterpoint to the villainous happenings. I also particularly enjoyed the well-drawn and engaging character of Kate’s friend, Jason Belding.

 My favorite scenes were those by Black Lake in the house Kate inherited from her dear departed aunt. I smelled the fragrance of the water and pines, and felt the old floorboards creaking when I walked over them with Kate. When the protagonist felt chilled in the unheated cottage, I reached for a blanket.

These are some of the skills at which Ms. Hovey excels.

Another setting I enjoyed was the damp, dark cellar of the old house. Wow, great action, tension, and suspense happened down there in that very creepy locale. Well done, Ms. Hovey.

Most authors learn as they progress, and I’m not different. I am prouder of my later books than my first or second or third, and I can see the progression quite clearly in all of Ms. Hovey’s works. They just keep getting better and better, but this early book is most enjoyable. I gave it five stars because I’ve read all the others and they are definitely five plus, plus stars. It’s hard to judge when you’re comparing against an author’s more advanced works, isn’t it?

I’m looking forward with great anticipation to Ms. Joan Hall Hovey’s next release, and hoping it comes soon.

Recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar, author of three award-winning mystery series at lazarbooks.com.

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