Thomas Morgan picked the day a record snowfall seals off the entire town to confess his love to his crush. It’s also the day he discovers the community’s eccentric artist nearly tortured to death and babbling about the beating. And the day hired killers start following him home. Every element will come together at an abandoned house, long rumored to be haunted, where Thomas’s life will change forever.
MY STRANGE ACQUAINTANCE WITH DEATH has a pretty good opening line—not the opening line of the first section, which is dubbed “The Legend,” but the next opening line. In fact, between that opening section and that opening line, readers might think they’re reading a gory ghost story—perhaps a little too gory for some readers, but so far so fun. And then, rather than build supernatural tension, writer Fred H. Elder redirects readers into a violent crime novel. It speeds along, with short chapters that never seem overstuffed and keep the pace moving. That’s impressive, considering the story mostly takes place over a single day. It also helps that Thomas, acting as the narrator, speaks in an entertaining, down-to-earth way.
Unfortunately, there are a couple problems with the narration. Thomas cracks jokes and makes goofy comments, which helps the book stay readable, but at the same time he detests the violence he sees and calls out the professional killers when they make light of the dark situation. This double standard is not a deal breaker, but it creates some distance between reader and narrator, and it might take some people out of the story. The narration itself is jumpy in general. In the present, it’s in first-person, told from Thomas’s point of view. In the past, it skips to an omniscient third-person narrator, but it’s not always clear why it needs to return to the past. It happens suddenly and infrequently, and it usually feels unnecessary. Finally, sometimes the narrative switches to third-person in the present when it wants to check on the POV of Thomas’s friend, Hicham. It’s not the end of the world, but it can spoil the consistency and flow of the book.
Fred H. Elder’s MY STRANGE ACQUAINTANCE WITH DEATH is a pulpy, descriptive mixture of comic crime thriller and haunted house chiller that’s is easy and fun to read but never quite comes together.
~Colin Newton for IndieReader