Consequences, by John Quick, is a pretty solid debut and one that hints at good things to come as Quick's career progresses (note: Consequences is independently published, but he's recently signed with Sinister Grin Press, so I think it's safe to say Quick is in this for the long haul, or at least I hope he is).
What we have here is a serial killer horror story, based on an urban legend in Quick's real-life neck of the woods in Tennessee. Back in the 70s, Crazy Freddy killed his entire family - hung them with barbed wire and skinned them alive. Flash forward to the present-day, where a group of teens have just graduated from high school are all set to have a party in the abandoned house. Guess who used to live there? Booze is drank, drugs smoked, sex had, and an accidental fire started - all of which upsets the crazed killer lurking in the dark, and off we go on a bloody tear.
The character work here is pretty impressive, particularly for a first-time novelist. I liked these kids, and found myself a bit dismayed at their inevitable ends as I was rooting for more than a few of them to pull through. But alas... Quick goes to some deliriously dark places and pulls off his scenes of torture and violence rather well. He switches up the kills enough to keep us wondering how, exactly, his next victim will suffer, keeping us on our toes even if some of the inevitable demises feel a little too inevitable.
My main complaint with Consequences is that we really never know what makes our nutty slasher tick. The Big Bad presented here is entirely human, with no supernatural gimmicks, and fans of slasher flicks or thriller novels will know where The Big Reveal is headed way before Quick announces it. The really big questions go unresolved, though. Our killer is not presented as a force of nature, but one with a backstory that I really wish I had been privy to as a reader. There's history lurking in these pages, and I wanted to know about it. Without a deeper examination of the killer's motives, and some sort of look at Nature vs. Nurture, the why's behind his murder spree feels flimsy.
While I had a couple other issues with this book -- the middle part gets bogged down while the teens try to figure out who's after them, and the finale feels way too rushed -- I enjoyed the read overall. This is a slasher story that wears its influences on its sleeve, and although it doesn't break any new ground, it's at least largely entertaining in its delivery.
[Note: This book was provided for review by Hook of a Book Media and Publicity.]