A focused story makes for a smoother route to the small Southern town of Niceville in Stroud’s superior sequel to 2012’s convoluted Niceville. Nick Kavanaugh, a former Special Forces soldier now a tough county cop, and his lawyer wife, Kate, have become the guardians of 10-year-old Rainey Teague, a key player in the previous book. On a good day, Rainey is a handful, but he appears to be changing into the epitome of his evil ancestors. The answer to why this is so may lie in the gilt mirror hidden in the Kavanaughs’ closet. Meanwhile, the investigation of an armored-car heist during which four officers were murdered brings more violence to Niceville, including the accidental killing of a mobster and his grandson during a police shootout with an escaped prisoner. Elements such as an ancient ghost story, a nearby sinkhole that Native Americans consider a bad place, homicidal criminals, and the soul of one little boy meld into a rich, realistic supernatural thriller. Agent: Barney Karpfinger, Karpfinger Agency. (July)
“NICEVILLE and THE HOMECOMING, by Carsten Stroud: crazy-good supernatural/crime/horror epic. Blew me away. Really one novel. You’ve never read anything like it. Faulkner crossed with Steve King.”
“An addictive small-town terror symphony masquerading as a beach read.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Holds up against anything Hollywood can offer for summer entertainment. . . . Stroud works with the precision of a watchmaker.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Classic southern noir crossed with a bit of Dean Koontz. . . . Simply terrific.” —The Globe and Mail (Canada)
“A genre-bending, page-turning, suspenseful read that is impossible to put down or to forget.” —Booklist
“Balances suspense and humor. . . . Shows off [Stroud’s] love for the American South and its difficult progress through history.” —The Free Lance-Star
“A fun, strange, thrilling ride. . . . The dialogue sings, the action [is] fueled by careful character development (and vice versa), and there is the un-simple pleasure of superb storytelling.” —Bookgasm
“A rich, realistic supernatural thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
“The place where noir, thriller, and paranormal fiction intersect.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Stroud’s tight plotting and colorful characters bounce between hard-boiled crime drama and suspenseful, creepy supernatural thriller. . . . The Homecoming is a breathless read with endless surprises and the solid writing of an author firmly in control of his craft.” —Shelf Awareness
Further praise for the Niceville series
"[Stroud] offers surprises, shocks, moments of lyricism, explosions of humor and unrelenting suspense. . . Superior storytelling.”—The Washington Post
“The last time I was so swiftly taken over by a work of fiction was probably when I read A Game of Thrones. Carsten Stroud’s wonderful Niceville isn’t really much like George R. R. Martin's fantasy novel, apart from being equally hard-boiled and engrossing, but it rockets around its deceptively staid Southern town, pulling bad guys and worse guys and long-ago misdeeds into a widening and unfolding tale about every kind of wickedness.” —Peter Straub
“Think Stephen King crossed with Mickey Spillane.” —Open Letters Monthly
Picking up where he left off in Niceville, the first volume in the “Niceville” trilogy, Stroud brings readers closer to the source of the darkness seeking to subsume his otherwise average Southern town. Here, detective Nick Kavanaugh and his wife, Kate, discover stranger things about Rainey Teague, the boy they took in after he vanished from the street and was found inside a long-unopened tomb. The unsolved robbery of the First Third Bank in nearby Gracie, which spurred much of the action in Niceville, grows more deadly with the arrival of a Mafia hit man. Meanwhile, the discovery of a car belonging to a school attendance officer at the bottom of the Tulip River just off Patton’s Hard provides a window into an even older mystery.
Verdict Combining elements of literary suspense and action thriller novels, this sequel answers many of the questions left unresolved at the end of Niceville, with enough unsolved to leave the reader looking forward to the next installment of this ominously action-packed saga. [See Prepub Alert, 1/25/13.]Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA
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Thriller author Stroud returns to the eerie Southern town of Niceville, where plantation-era ghosts abound, gunplay is routine, and genres tend to morph and merge. For the sprawling second book in his trilogy, Stroud (Niceville, 2012) again strives to find the place where noir, thriller and paranormal fiction intersect. Detective Nick Kavanaugh is investigating a bank robbery that appears to have involved his brother-in-law Byron Dietz, a wife-beating horror who's implicated in some shady activity with Chinese businessmen. Meanwhile, Nick's wife, Kate, is caring for Deitz's shellshocked wife and kids, as well as 10-year-old Rainey Teague, who (as detailed in the first book) has a mystical connection to a family of slavery-era reprobates. Stroud can write knockout violent set pieces: A high-speed police chase gone terribly awry; Dietz's wild escape from custody thanks to a deer crashing into a transport bus; and a standoff in a Bass Pro Shop stocked with guns and outdoor gear. In these scenes, Stroud masters stark imagery, tough talk and street smarts, even if the cops other than Nick are relatively faceless. Where the book stumbles is in its ungainly effort to weave in plodding bits of horror and Southern history amid the crime story. Scenes involving Rainey Teague largely involve him and extended members of the Kavanaugh clan exploring an old plantation house, where Teague is possessed by "nothing," a nefarious demon trying to extract him from adult support. As a vision of evil, a boldfaced voice in a preteen's head isn't especially terrifying, and, tucked as this all is in a busy plot thick with characters and historical references, its impact is weakened further still. The most clearly drawn character, in fact, is Deitz, but he's a hard guy to root for. A third book may resolve the tangled plot, but this one is messy and overwritten.