Devils In Dark Houses by B.E. Scully is a collection of four interrelated crime novellas, linked together by the appearances of Detectives Shirdon and Martinez.
The first of these novellas, The Eye That Blinds, was released as a stand-alone title by DarkFuse last year. Although I gave that one three stars at the time, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you much about it more than a year later. Having already read it, and despite not recalling anything about it, I opted to not reread it but do believe that this collection suffers from the same problems I'm presently having in drumming up any recollections of The Eye That Blinds. The stories here may be good, but none of them strike me as being particularly memorable.
Even just days after starting in on this book, I'm already forgetting what the second book was supposed to be about. Maybe this is just because of life stuff getting in the way and making my reading experience choppy and piecemeal, so take this review as you will. Thankfully, the book's description tells me this story is named Each Castle Its King, and I do remember the couple at the story's heart bought a disheveled home they dubbed The Blood House. I think it was kind of a haunted house but not really sort of story.
The third story, Nostri, was centered around a brilliant premise but tried a little to hard to create a Fight Club mystique that ultimately did not work for me at all. I did greatly appreciate the concept of holding big-mouthed politicians accountable and forcing them to put their money where there mouth is. The story kicks off with a right-to-life politicians being surprised to find an abandoned baby on her doorstep and forced into either providing the child with a chance at life, or proving herself a hypocrite and abandoning the kid into a state home. It's good stuff, and the plot slowly escalated to build on this premise.
The final story revolves around a homeless schizophrenic and the investigation into a missing cop in Devils In Dark Houses. By the time I reached the three-quarter mark of this one, though, I was already deeply bored with the collection as a whole and ready to move onto new reading material. I mustered through what I could, but eventually found myself skimming through to the finale to find out the answers behind the story's whodunnit.
And I can almost hear the screeching and gnashing of teeth at my admission that I skimmed. I know, I know. But let me explain here. Again, I was bored. And much of this boredom stemmed from Scully's insistence to shoehorn in pages upon pages of infodumping atop flashbacks galore. This really began to grate on my nerves with Nostri, where I read about a tertiary character's entire upbringing by her old-school parents and life under their thumb in the 1960s almost up through the present, and her years at college, and her meeting of her husband, and on and on and on. By the time the third flashback rolled around in the the final story, I'd completely had it.
So yeah, unfortunately Devils In Dark Houses just was not my cup of tea at all. The stories had promise, but fell flat in their execution, and just when things began to heat up and draw me in, Scully would insist on disrupting the narrative to tell me all about this whole other thing that happened to somebody way back when before jumping back to the present. It frustrated the hell out of me, frankly.
[Note: As a member of the DarkFuse Book Club, I received this title for review from the publisher via NetGalley.]