Happy Tuesday! For my last Book Review Tuesday of May, I have a fabulous NetGalley read to share. Before I get started, a tip of the hat to Kim of By Hook or By Book for pointing me to this title through her own fantastic review. I count Chasing the Boogeyman as one of my top reads of the year.
The New York Times bestselling coauthor of Gwendy’s Button Boxbrings his signature “thrilling, page-turning” (Michael Koryta, author of How It Happened) prose to this story of small-town evil that combines the storytelling of Stephen King with the true-crime suspense of Michelle McNamara.
In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman—and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.
Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come.
A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, Chasing the Boogeyman is the ultimate marriage between horror fiction and true crime. Chizmar’s “brilliant…absolutely fascinating, totally compelling, and immediately poignant” (C.J. Tudor, New York Times bestselling author) writing is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.
Although I’m not a fan of true crime stories, there was something about this book that appealed to me the first time I read a review. Maybe it was the hint of a supernatural/horror element, or maybe the concept of metafiction. I could honestly go rounds with that description and still have difficulty delivering a solid definition. Bottom line, In Search of the Boogeyman is a fictional novel made to read like true crime. The delivery is quite clever, and the story is riveting.
The first few chapters provide background on the central character, where he grew up, why he’s in his present circumstances, etc. etc. and those are almost entirely prose. It took me some settling in to adjust to that pace, but the descriptions about small town life and childhood memories are richly textured and sure to awaken nostalgia. Add in that Edgewood, Maryland is a real town—along with many other places referenced in the novel—and the content begins to feel more factual than fictional. I’ve visited several of the places Chizmar references. By chapter three, I wanted to speed read to the end.
It’s the summer of 1988 and Richard has returned to his hometown just as a murder occurs—unthinkable in a small town like Edgewood. When other murders follow—all young girls, all missing a left ear and posed after death—residents fear a serial killer is on the loose. Dubbed the “boogeyman” the killer seems impossible to catch. Richard finds himself caught up in the search, his path intertwining with a journalist friend and the lead detective on the case.
I can be squeamish about books with serial killers, but there was nothing overly graphic in this novel. Chills, goose bumps, suspense and tension abound. There are several nighttime scenes that are especially creepy. It’s clear the victims met with violent ends, but gore doesn’t factor into the descriptions which I appreciated. To add to the true crime feel, each chapter closes with photos of crime scenes, town locations, and family photos of the victims. In Chizmer’s skillful hands, the book becomes mystery, thriller, and a haunting tale of small-town life that lingers long after finishing. I also loved the inclusion of an afterward from the author explaining how the book came about and how the photos were developed. Chasing the Boogeyman is definitely among my favorite reads for the year!
Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for my ARC!
Want a good read that will keep you up at night flipping pages? This one surely did! Thanks to NetGalley and my own mammoth TBR, I’ve been binge-devouring books lately. Goodreads tells me I’m nineteen novels ahead in my reading challenge for 2021 (although I did cut it back from last year). As a result, you may start seeing more book reviews from me scattered here and there in the weeks and months ahead. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow when I’ll be sharing my reviews for the first book in a new cozy series, and the latest release in a buddy/paranormal adventure series.