Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A fast-paced page-flicker

Indie Book Review:

Once again, an independent author proven that the big commercial publishers just are not effective at finding good writers. RS Guthrie’s debut novel is a good, fast-paced read that kept me turning pages — or at least, flicking the screen of my e-reader.

Black Beast is an attempt to marry supernatural horror with hardboiled cop mystery. It’s mostly successful, if a little uneven in spots.

Synopsis: Robert Macaulay, “Bobby Mac,” is a Denver, Colorado cop with an artificial leg and a lot of history. The story begins with a death-row visit to the criminal who killed Macaulay’s first partner and was responsible for the loss of Macaulay’s leg, as well.

Macaulay is then perplexed by a series of especially grisly murders in Denver, and other events that bring up old cases he had worked one.

Macaulay’s family history becomes much more present, though, when he’s visited by his uncle, Father West, who reveals that Bobby Mac is the heir to an occult weapon and a responsibility to fight an ancient evil.

Author Rob Guthrie successfully weaves together the occult and the fact-based murder mystery genres in this tale. I’m not sure whether plotting or character development is his strongest point. Macaulay and all the other characters are absolutely believable (except maybe for some of the buddies from the Marines — but then, I’ve never been in the armed forces). I really identified with the main character’s awkwardness and difficulty with his college-aged son, and the anguish over the death of his wife.
And as for plot, there is only one big coincidence in this book. Everything else that I thought was a credibility stretch is very nicely tied together by the end. To me, this is a mark of a writer who takes his craft seriously.

There are a few places where Guthrie goes a little over the top, mainly in his descriptions of horror and ancient evil and in descriptions of criminals, but I can forgive those. By far, most of the prose is tight and fast paced. I was never bored reading this book.

I cannot understand why no commercial publisher picked this title up. Oh, right — because Rob Guthrie isn’t a celebrity.

He should be, by now.


  1. This is encouraging for other writers who are only regular people.

    1. We are ALL only regular people. We all put our pants on one leg at a time, because we're balancing a book on the other thigh.

      But your point is well taken. The commercially published writers, I suspect, all have connections with the industry.