Inheritance by Joe McKinney (Evil Jester Press, Oct. 18th, 2012, review copy via the author)-Paul Henninger had a pretty rough childhood. His father, Martin, was emotionally and physically abusive, and his mother was nothing but a shell that seemed to allow the abuse and was emotionally withdrawn and distant, or so Paul has always thought. Paul is now a rookie cop with the San Antonio police, and he’s eager to get on with his life and his career after the tragedy that made up his childhood. He’s married to a lovely woman, Rachel, who absolutely adores him and he’s determined not to carry the darkness with him that his father was so enmeshed in, and so determined to pass on to his son. When Paul and his partner, Mike, are called to the scene of a massive slaughter, it kicks off a chain of events that will forever alter Paul and could bring about the end of the world.
Martin Henninger is dead, and Paul wants to put the past behind him, but when he actually steps into Martin’s past, and discovers the source of the dark magic that’s causing so much death and destruction, he has no idea how to escape it, and soon, such immense power begins to look more and more attractive to Paul, and the hold that his father has on him becomes almost too much to resist. This power was never meant to be used for evil, but it’s been perverted and twisted, and it holds the promise to command the dead, if only Paul would just let it in.
Joe McKinney has done something wonderful with this book. It takes some pretty terrifying subjects like black magic and undead armies, and wraps all of it up in a very satisfying police procedural. The author knows of what he writes, since he has a police background, the inner workings of the San Antonio Police Department are fascinating, and the camaraderie (and competition) within the department adds a whole new dimension to the novel. As Paul fights his own battles with his father, homicide detectives are following the trail of death and are keen to know exactly how Paul is involved, because it becomes very clear at the outset that he very much is.
Inheritance has pretty much got it all: ghosts, zombies, ritual murder, and much more. It’s written with the sure hand that I’ve come to expect of McKinney and the scares come fast and furious. I really liked Paul as the protagonist, and although he is special, is certainly touched by the supernatural, he just wants to be with Rachel, be a cop, and belong to something normal and good. He’s not immune to the pull of the awesome power offered to him, and, in spite of his father’s abuse, he still yearns for his father’s love and acceptance. McKinney didn’t make Rachel a shrinking violet, which I appreciate, and she plays a rather large and important role in the story. I think it’s pretty much a given that cop’s wives must be inherently strong, but Rachel faces some pretty tough battles in order to help save the man she loves so much.
Inheritance is not just a horror story, it’s the portrait of a damaged boy, now a man, who’s desperately trying to stay in the light, and resist the darkness. Martin Henninger doesn’t make this easy, and things get very bad before it seems they may get better, and even that is never certain. Emotional, creepy, and downright scary, Inheritance will take you on a trip you won’t soon forget.