Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: Ash: Return of the Beast by Gary Val Tenuta

Ash: Return of the Beast by Gary Val Tenuta
Synopsis (Goodreads):
Ash: Return of the Beast is an occult crime thriller, a work of fiction based on a little known factoid about the death of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the notorious occultist the British press once called "The Wickedest Man In The World". Crowley’s body was cremated but the whereabouts of his funerary ashes has remained a mystery… until now.

This diabolical tale carries the reader through a series of the most curious (and sometimes unsettling) events spanning the years from 1947(and the death of Aleister Crowley) to the 1990s and the coming-of-age (and eventual stardom) of a "death-metal" rocker named Rodney Duckworth.

The time-line shifts to the present day where Brian Kane, a gruff and gritty, street-worn Seattle Police Detective, reluctantly teams up with the mysterious Rowena Ravenwood, an attractive female FBI agent. Their task is to figure out why good, healthy, God-fearing preachers in their fair city are suddenly dropping dead.

What is the meaning of the strange symbols branded onto the bodies of these hapless victims? Are they all part of some bizarre cult? No eyewitnesses. No fingerprints. Is it really murder? Where’s the evidence? And what is the disturbing secret that Detective Kane is holding so close to his chest?

The investigation catapults Kane and Ravenwood headlong into life-threatening situations as they wind their way through the strange, dark labyrinth of the world of the occult and find themselves battling the powerful forces of ritual magick.

Problem is, the clues to help solve the case are in terribly short supply. Worse yet, so is the amount of time left to stop the mysterious killer's reign of terror before all Hell breaks loose. And – according to Special Agent Ravenwood – that’s not just a figure of speech.
My Thoughts: There were parts of this book that I liked very much. I liked how we were flipped back and forth between events in the past and the current investigation. I liked that this was a twisted tale that spanned decades before coming to fruition. I liked Kane but it bothered me a bit that he was so unwilling to be open minded at the beginning of the investigation. Yes, the things being presented were BIG things and well outside the norm but even if he didn't believe in them, the person committing the crimes did. That alone should have made him take them a little more seriously.

The beginning of the book moves a little slowly. There's a lot of information on Aleister Crowley and the events leading up to the present day that are laid out. However, I do think everything presented was relevant to the story and without that information, you'd be lost as to why some of the things were happening. Still, it takes a while to get to the meat of the story.

The investigation itself was intriguing but I really don't know how I feel about Ravenwood. While I liked her as a character, I'm not sure I ever saw sparks between her and Kane. While the attraction was hinted at several times, the connection didn't happen for me. I did like that Kane had some big mood swings. You never knew what you were going to get with the guy.

All in all, this was a twisted thriller that fizzled a bit on the relationship front. The murders were dark, the magick was darker, and the bad guys got what was coming to them.

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Ash:Return of the Beast was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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