Part crime novel, part supernatural thriller, Carsten Stroud's The Homecoming, the followup to 2012's Niceville, paints a picture of a southern town in the grips of something dark and menacing. Nick Kavanaugh is a police detective in Niceville, with an attorney wife, Kate, and a newly adopted son, Rainey Teague. Strange things have been happening, both in Nick's police department as well as in and around the various sites of evil-doings in Confederate times.
The non-supernatural plot of the novel revolves around a group of policemen who pulled off a particularly hairy car robbery in the first book. Byron Dietz, an abusive alcoholic who is married to Kate's sister, takes center stage as he co-opts the local sporting goods store to get his hands on that money, setting off another chain of brutal events.
The Homecoming is full of solid characters, with Harvill Endicott, the mob-hired amoral psychopath chasing down the money from the armed car robbery, Warren Smoles, the fire-breathing defense lawyer who's more interested in the camera than the actual fate of his charges, and Mavis Crossfire, the cheerily effective lieutenant who Nick reports to at each new crime scene.
Stroud weaves a darkly humorous tale of the evil that men do with a firm eye toward old haunts in the swamps. The Homecoming is a breathless read with endless surprises and the solid writing of an author firmly in control of his craft. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor