Roy Porter has to go with the cops to the Tulsa morgue to identify another body. This time it is Willy, another homeless man that Roy knew. The cops have their ideas about who is killing the homeless but Roy has seen this pattern before. He knows that there’s something supernatural to it. With trepidation, he goes to Jim Hartford’s to ask for his help. But Jim isn’t interested, having his own demons to fight off with a bottle of booze.
This story has a noir feel to it. It’s part mystery, part urban fantasy. It was interesting and engaging. Loner biker Jim has a lot of secrets and we never learn what they all are. However, we do know he defeated whatever this is in the past and there’s hints from the beginning that it cost him dearly. Roy is the true hero of the tale mostly because he has to step up and own his power and become that hero instead of holding himself back. There were plenty of references to blues music icons that I didn’t get, but that’s OK. Roy used to be a musician himself and I can appreciate the music icons through him.
There’s this mysterious place called Safe Haven that’s introduced early on and then revisited later. The folks that live there have the ability to fight this evil, but they would have to give up their hard won sanctuary to do so. Obviously, they are very hesitant to do so. I liked this aspect to the story because it lent weight to Jim’s instance that his previous win against this evil cost him too much. But I can also see that Roy doesn’t get why these folks, Jim included, are not initially willing to assist.
The evil itself comes in the form of a man. It’s complex and the killings are pretty gruesome. The bodies look like they have been stung or bitten or gnawed upon, each body being a little bit different. As Roy and eventually Jim dig into this mystery, Roy learns exactly why the bodies end up the way they do. It’s eerie and spooky. Let me just say that I now have a minor scorpion phobia due to this book!
Sadly, all of the ladies are secondary or tertiary characters. Trent, the Tulsa detective, is the most interesting.The Reverend who tries to help the homeless has several lines, but she’s not an important minor character like Trent. There’s references to Jim’s old girlfriend Trisha and then there’s Susan in Safe Haven. Out of all of them, I would have liked to see more of Trent and her detective skills.
All told, the story kept me engaged throughout. I would have liked more about Jim and of course I hope for a sequel to find out what Roy does after this. I wouldn’t mind a prequel showing Jim’s first encounter with this particular evil.
The Narration: J. Rodney Turner had a great voice for Roy and a good one for Jim. They started off distinct but then sometimes blended into one another later in the story. The female character voices are OK. Sometimes I had trouble figuring out if it was a teenage boy character or a woman. Still, I really liked the ruff gravelly voices for the 2 main characters.