Graveyard Love by Scott Adlerberg (Broken River Books, Feb. 1st) – About a quarter of the way through Scott Adlerberg’s latest effort, Graveyard Love, I realized that this wasn’t the type of novel I expected. This was certainly not a bad thing; see, because what Adlerberg managed to pack into a breezy and tight 184 pages is a tense thriller. Rear Window by way of Nekromantik (though, I promise, not as grisly).
Graveyard Love introduces us to Kurt Morgan, a thirty five year old writer that seems to have peaked too soon. He’s jobless and forced to live with his mother. She in turn has him toil on a memoir—too comfortable with Kurt knowing every detail of her life and with being a vicious taskmaster of an editor. During his stay, Kurt begins to obsess over a visitor to the graveyard across form his mother’s home. Unfortunately for Kurt, following his obsessions will lead him to some of the darkest places he’s ever been.
Adlerberg has a gift for atmosphere. His Broken River Books debut, Jungle Horses, had this in spades and he seems to up his game here. There is never a moment in Graveyard Love that I felt things were okay. Even in the quiet moment, there’s almost white noise in the air. It’s unsettling and attention-grabbing. That’s not to say there’s a lot of quiet time here. Graveyard Love moves (I finished it in a single sitting) and manages to entertain throughout. Character voices are strong and motivations are clear. Nothing is overwrought or detailed for detail’s sake. Adlerberg’s like a master carpenter, all those cuts and flourishes serve a distinct purpose. He knows exactly what works best to leave his readers with a sense of dread that veers towards the traditional spirit of macabre—the tombs, the gloom, the unbearable silence of a winter snowfall. There are plenty of stories that try to blend those old world elements into the present, but rarely do we see it executed so damn clearly.
That’s not to say there isn’t mystery or murkiness on the scene. At the center of Graveyard Love is a bizarre little mystery that will disturb and intrigue. And I don’t mean to be so vague, but I think it’s best to walk into the book with as little knowledge as possible. I cracked open Graveyard Love with no story knowledge and it was absolutely a wonderful experience. Go in with your eyes closed (metaphorically, I mean, you need to actually open them to read, duh) and I truly believe Adlerberg will provide you with a wonderful and thrilling experience.
Adlerberg’s got another notch on his belt with Graveyard Love and Broken River Books. I look forward to what’s next.