Sunday, September 8, 2019

Book Review: 'Maelstrom' by David Niall Wilson


Strange rituals in the night – a completely involving novel!

Author David Niall Wilson has lived a life that deserves a story setting all its own! He has served in the US Navy as an electronic technician, had lived in varied locales around the country and in Spain, and is IT Manager and Facility Security Officer for a company in North Carolina. Even his biographic data reads like a novel.

David’s manner of writing is atmospheric to the nth degree. Even his Introduction to this novel shares his rich life experiences and influences and sets the reader up for the journey ahead. That is a caring touch too seldom found in contemporary literature. 

The tone of this fine novel is set in the opening lines – ‘One moment there was light; the next there was nothing. The lights snapped off and darkness swallowed the huge amphitheater whole. All sound ceased for one long moment, cut short with a collective indrawn breath. The heady aromas of sweat, perfume, cigarette smoke, and burning hemp permeated the air. Adrenalin pumped and brains were charged; the moment was a still-shot photo against a backdrop of slowed time. Every eye in the building focused forward. It was going to be awesome…’ We are there, the author places in position for the strange story that follows after this ‘awesome’ concert by the band Maelstrom.

The plot is complex, but well distilled in the summary – ‘Something in Lavender, California is waking up. Rituals not properly completed for centuries are coming together. Nothing is what it seems. When Nick Leatherman, his girlfriend Ruthie, and their buddies Flash and Weasel invade Shady Grove Cemetery for a “ghost hunt” on their way home from a concert, they are drawn into a web of darkness and intrigue that threatens to consume them. Nick and Ruthie witness a gruesome murder, and Nick’s pocketknife shows up at the crime scene the next morning. Nick has had problems in the past, and Inspector Kendall Straker remembers. He remembers Ned Leatherman, Nick’s alcoholic stepfather as well, and he doesn’t believe the boy is a killer. The problem is that the knife - emblazoned with the name of the band Maelstrom - is the only clue he has. Horace Goldbough is the local pastor. He’s built a huge following and a beautiful church, but there are things about the good reverend that the town doesn’t know. In particular there is his relationship with a dark woman named Beauchane, and a certain book he keeps hidden from the world. With local reporters, and a television talk-show host hounding his every step, Straker attempts to unravel the series of grisly killings terrorizing Lavender, while simultaneously protecting Nick. Nick, in the meantime, has begun his own investigation, feeling trapped and needing to clear his name. Ritual words are being spoken, and a power that has been denied access to the Earth for centuries is poised to strike. The clock is ticking. Can Straker, Nick, and Maelstrom find the answer to the killings and put an end to them before the final ritual takes place, or will a horror be unleashed on the unsuspecting town of Lavender beyond their comprehension?'

Well written with excellent character development, this is the work of a practiced artist. Recommended.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.