Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: Niceville by Carsten Stroud

Niceville by Carsten Stroud is an odd little book. Part crime story and part supernatural mystery, Niceville is not your average friendly read - and like Martha Stewart says, that's a good thing.

Stroud, author of such novels as Black Water Transit, Cobraville: A Novel, and Lizardskin, among others, fills his story with a number of wily characters doing all sorts of nasty business, from grand theft and blackmail to cold-blooded murder and throughout it all is the spectre of something weird.

You see, Niceville has a tinge about it. There's something wrong here. Some say that it has something to do with Crater Sink, the thousand-foot deep circular crater filled with black water that lies on the edge of town. There are all sorts of tales and theories about that crater, and none of them are good. There's also the unsettling fact that in Niceville, 179 people have mysteriously vanished over the past 100 years.

This book, which is the first in a trilogy, begins with the disappearance of Rainey Teague. Security camera footage shows the boy standing in front of a store window looking at an old mirror one minute and the next, he's gone. Detective Nick Kavanaugh, an ex-special forces soldier, takes on the case. Meanwhile, a trio pulls off a deadly high-stakes robbery that quickly goes bad. The stories then branch out and weave through each other in the most unusual of ways. Everything is linked and everything is linked to Niceville's past.

I was immediately drawn into Niceville by its weaving storyline, straight-shooter dialogue, and realistic characters. This is a gritty novel that is different from anything out there right now. Creative, unique, and complex, Niceville is one of those novels that people are either going to love or hate, for those very same reasons. I happened to really enjoy my visit to Niceville, even though the people there aren't the "nicest." I was glad to learn that it is the first book in a series because the mystery of Crater Sink is largely avoided here. It is more of a background piece in Niceville. And while the book does have an ending, there are a few things left unexplained, which I hope the author plans to wrap up in the two planned sequels, The Homecoming (June 2013) and The Departure (June 2014). 

All in all, Niceville is a compelling story unlike anything I've read before. I give it **** out of *****.

Check out the book trailer for Niceville below:

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