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Review: BLUE BILLY by Laura Ellen Scott

Description:

Turn the Living into Corpses

I am the dirt. I am the grave.
I don’t meditate nor drink. I don’t write manifestos.
I turn people into bodies.

So begins the confession of a boogeyman that no one believes in. As he settles into the abandoned Magic River Café, Blue Billy doesn’t care that it has deteriorated into a derelict, filth-ridden shack on the banks of a rancid backwater. This is his home, now. Or it could be, if it weren’t for three women out to prove that he is real.

Crocus Rowe is a parolee with anger issues, who finds herself on the run after she assaults a professor over his unspeakable crimes. When the professor winds up in a refrigerator submerged in the ironically named Magic River, things look bad for Crocus, whose first call is to Alma Bell, a memoirist and much-maligned Blue Billy “expert” from New Royal University’s notorious Crime Writing Program. Haunted by the unsolved 1992 murder of her best friend, Alma will go to any lengths to prove that Blue Billy is responsible. And then there’s Tara Rowe, Crocus’s damaged cousin. As one of Blue Billy’s rare survivors, she’s endured years of experimental therapy and exploitation to become the person she is today: Blue Billy’s stalker.

Children still whisper “Blue Billy” around the campfire, but if Crocus, Alma, and Tara can uncover the truth behind New Royal’s darkest mystery, they may just put an end to the legend, once and for all.

My Take:

In BLUE BILLY, the third book in Laura Ellen Scott’s New Royal Mysteries Series, she has created a monster that is equal parts myth, local legend, and deranged psychopath. As has become a tradition for Scott’s novels, she assembles a cast of quirky, damaged, dysfunctional characters to resolve the essential crime mystery, a thread that strings all three installments of the series together. And she does it with the expected attention to detail of which nightmares are made and carefully crafted exposition that often makes one’s skin crawl. A deviation from the previous parts of the series, this one ventures into the country where the natural decay of nature has intersected with the demise of what was once a recreational hot spot. There is a scene that involves a submerged refrigerator that I guarantee will haunt you afterward.

But this gritty, visceral story is as much about relationships as it is a series of unsolved murders. Crocus and Tara, cousins who share as much disappointment in their lives as DNA, must resolve enough of their past issues to join forces with Alma, a self-proclaimed expert, in exposing a demonic presence that has plagued the surrounding community. It’s no Sunday picnic at the riverside where the drama draws to its climax where the survival of the trio demands destroying their shared nemesis that no one else believes exists.

If you haven’t yet discovered Laura Ellen Scott, Blue Billy is a great place to start. Even though it is part of a series, it stands on its own, though it will compel you to dive further into the weird world of New Royal, Ohio for more of the background.

About the Author:

Born and raised in the tiny Northern Ohio town of Brimfield, Laura Ellen Scott was named after the classic noir film and song, “Laura,” so it makes sense that she enjoys writing dark, quirky fiction in the tradition of Tom Robbins, Kelly Link, and Robert Altman. She started out writing short fiction, and her stories can be found in places like Ploughshares, Pank, Mississippi Review, and Wigleaf, but it wasn’t until she received an out-of-the-blue email from the great Dorothy Allison (BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA) that she started writing novels. That email said, among other things: “Damn you are good. You are just seriously satisfyingly good.” Eventually, Allison would blurb Laura’s first novel, DEATH WISHING (Ig Publishing, 2011), a comic fantasy set in post-Katrina New Orleans.

These days she is an author with Pandamoon Publishing, and her latest novel, CRYBABY LANE, is the second book in the NEW ROYAL MYSTERIES, a series set in a fictional college/prison town in Ohio. The first book in the series is THE MEAN BONE IN HER BODY (2016). The second book is CRYBABY LANE (2017). Book 3 is titled BLUE BILLY, coming 5.11.22. Prior to launching the series, Pandamoon published Scott’s THE JULIET (2016), a western/mystery about a cursed emerald lost in Death Valley.

Scott is a term full professor in the English Department at George Mason University, and she divides her time between Fairfax, VA and Great Cacapon, WV.

Blue Billy is available at Amazon as of 5.11.22.

Uncategorized

Books I’m Reading

books

I’ve read two manuscripts in the past week and have started to read a friend’s newly published book. The two manuscripts are very different in genre but I enjoyed both immensely. I’m only a couple of chapters into the third story, but enjoying it as well.

The first of the manuscripts is a novel by Deek Rhew titled “122 Rules”. It will be published sometime this year and I look forward to promoting it and reading other people’s opinions. What is genuinely unique about it is the blending of genres and the strength of the female characters. Deek’s an interesting person. I’ve spoken with him a few times. He has a warped sense of humor and a different perspective on the world that comes through at times into his writing as he points out the irony in his characters’ situations. The book is anything but a typical crime, detective, police thing. It blends in a healthy dose of suspense along with some of the attributes of a good spy thriller. Yet it is told in an entertaining and memorable manner that lingers days after and one recalls some of the more unusual aspects of the story.

The second manuscript is a Regency period romance novel titled Love’s Misadventure by Cheri Champagne. Generally I’m not a huge fan of romance novels but there have been exceptions that I’ve read over the past few years. I still follow the postings of a couple of my friends from FanStory, Margaret Snowdon and Phyllis Stewart. The previous writes romances set in Victorian England. The latter writes quirky situation romantic tales set in contemporary times. Cheri’s novel is atypical of the romance genres and includes a lot of adventure that kept my attention throughout. It is well written and a pleasure to read. Despite the time period in which it is set the lead female character, Anna, is strong willed and drives the plot. The main male characters are noble while there are some vile, unsavory villains as well. It will be one of the easiest books for me to promote. It has a little something ror everyone, containing all the elements of a good bodice ripping tale while filled with the political intrigue of spies. The key characters are kidnapped in an effort to punish another main character. There’s a lot to like about it making it an enjoyable read.

Both manuscripts have sequels coming, by the way.

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The recently published book I’m diving into is titled Norma Jean’s School of Witchery. It is a Young Adult novel from my friend Rose Montague who I have previously named an honorary Panda since she knows many of the other Pandamoon Publishing authors though she is working with another small publisher. Besides that, she is really great person to know and always willing to promote the work of other authors.

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A little over a year ago, she published a YA novel titled Jade, which I  read, enjoyed and posted a review around a year ago. The novel is not your typical supernatural triller. Jade is a complex character with many intriguing abilities and an alternative lifestyle. The Sequel, Jane, was published about a month ago and is on my reading list for when I finish her present novel.

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The reason I’m reading Norma Jean’s School of Witchery first is kind of selfish. Rose told me there is a character in the book named Elgon. It’s not everyday that a guy named Elgon finds a namesake. Now you might be thinking that some people will do anything to get a Five Star Review, right? But seriously, Rose has an engaging writing style that I have enjoyed previously and I expect nothing less than an outstanding story from her with this book.

Judging from what I’ve heard from other people who follows Rose’s writing, Jane should be read prior to Norma Jean’s School of Witchery because there are a couple of spoilers contained in the latter. Oh well, I’ve made my selection and prioritized the reading list. I’ll post a review when I finish.

#DeekRhew #122Rules #CheriChampagne #LovesMisadventure #RoseMontague #NormaJeansSchoolOfWitchery #Jade #Jane #Reading #NewBooks #YA #Regency Romance #Crime #Suspense