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  • Writer's pictureTrusty Henchman

Reading Pile: Paranormal: Death Strikes At Midnight

Sometimes I read a book that I realize I would have loved back in the early 2000s, but for various reasons it just doesn't hit me the same way anymore and it makes me double down on trying to figure out if that's a me problem or the book's problem. Gritty street level crime books from the point of view of the villains, especially supervillains, is sort of my jam. There's some solid worldbuilding at play here but unfortunately the pacing of the storytelling just lessened the overall experience for me.

The set up starts with an FBI agent stepping into a case involving paranormal violence, paranormal being this world's name for superpowered individuals. I know this intro is supposed to set up a sort of police procedural tone but it felt like stepping into a brick wall of exposition. We learn of a police shootout with a criminal named Ratface and the various vendettas involved, and then we're actually introduced to the main character of the piece, an ex-con and paranormal named Ogre. Ogre plans on going straight, but of course his past and problems with his wife threaten to pull him into a messy plot of revenge. Y'know, the usual noir plot.

There are a lot of elements I did enjoy as Dan Christensen's art works really well for the tone, he has a bit of humor to balance out the crime elements, and as I said there is some really fun worldbuilding. There's also some weak spots to the world building though, such as the fact that the weakness of all paranormals, regardless of their power set, is just electricity. Because.....reasons? Because you need to raise the stakes somehow I guess, but it felt a bit ham-fisted. With elements like that slowing down the story as well as heavy handed exposition scenes and odd pacing here and there, it was just a little too easy to be pulled out of the plot at times.

The book is a fairly chunky package, clocking in at 152 pages for $22.72 so it's a decent deal and readily available at the publisher's website. The digital copy is less than $10, so I have less reservations about recommending it at that price. And as I said, a younger me would have probably liked this without reservations, but at this point I've read too many indy superhero/villain genre mashups and if I'm going to spend time and money on new ones I just want a smoother flow in the pacing or a totally groundbreaking idea. This had its moments, but it's just not going to stick with me for too long.

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