Monday, June 26, 2023

Beneath Cruel Waters

Horror and crime-fiction author Jon Bassoff continues to impress me with his literary work. As a modern writer, he is certainly in the top echelons for innovative, moving storytelling that captures the dark and dreary landscape of rural America. His books produce a poverty-ridden moodiness that reminds me of Joe R. Lansdale or Elmore Leonard, but with the hazy overtones of bleak horror. His newest novel, at the time of this writing, is Beneath Cruel Waters. It was published by Blackstone in 2022 and exists in audio, digital, and physical formats.

The book is presented in rotating timelines that incorporate present day events with those in the past. In the present, Holt Davidson has returned to his small Colorado hometown after discovering his mother took her own life. After rummaging through his mother's belongings, he finds a bizarre photo of a dead man. Why did his mother have this photo? What is the significance?

In the past, the author presents Davidson's childhood, mostly focusing on his mother's life. She is a single mom struggling to make ends meet. After meeting a former felon, she begins a dating routine that escalates into a frightful fatal-attraction scenario. Davidson's uncle arrives and begins to strike up a reunion with the family, catering to Davidson's sister. These past events, as trivial as they may seem, have a large impact on what Davidson is experiencing in present day.

As Davidson journeys into the past, attempting to make sense of his fuzzy memories, he learns a great deal about his tumultuous childhood, his mother's suicide, and horrifying events that forced his sister into a mental hospital. All of these events circumvent the dead man photo, a mysterious love letter, a gun, and an illegal abortionist. How they all tie into each other is the mystery, thrill, and entertainment of Bassoff's riveting novel.

Beneath Cruel Waters was nothing short of amazing. The characters, the plot development, the core mystery, and the presentation was masterfully woven to create the ultimate page-turner. As an intimate glimpse into the lives of small-town America, no one can do it any better than Jon Bassoff. If you love gripping novels that demand to be devoured in one sitting, look no further than Beneath Cruel Waters. Highest recommendation. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

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