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  • Mandy McHugh

The Wicked Hour, Alice Blanchard: A Review

I love a good Halloween-time thriller, and The Wicked Hour did not disappoint.

Natalie Lockhart is still reeling from a tragic series of events (which are covered in book 1 of this series). Depressed, alone, and confused, she throws herself into her work, a tactic that distracts her until she discovers a dead body in a dumpster the day after Halloween. With an assortment of leads and potential suspects, Natalie investigates the death despite political barriers and her own painful memories. I really enjoyed this book. First, I will say that if you haven't read Trace of Evil, you might find the references and internal reflection a little confusing at first. That's not to say it's unreadable without knowing book one, but I can see where others might gain a deeper understanding of Natalie's character by taking the time to circle back. Focusing on this book alone, Natalie is an interesting, nuanced MC with a mixed bag of emotions. She's real and raw and I loved the quiet moments the best, where she struggles to figure out what she wants and who she is at this pivotal time in her life. The supporting cast is vivid and dynamic, and the scenery changes pretty much every chapter which helps the pacing and the propulsive plot. We meet quirky lab techs and holistic shop keepers, elite musicians, and folk fiddlers. And as an upstate New Yorker, I loved the references to the ADKs. Give me a familiar setting any day, and I will be all the more excited. There were a few details that I found distracting. First, and I understand this is a matter of personal preference, I dislike when characters think something to themselves and another character voices that same exact thought almost verbatim a minute later. That happens here a few times. Also, the dialogue was a bit repetitive, with several characters using the same odd turns of speech or phrasing anomalies. The plot is intriguing, though, and I appreciated the insight and exploration of the world of competitive orchestra. I look forward to fleshing out more of the connections that are hinted to here in the next installment. Natalie's complicated past and recovery are deliciously loaded with potential avenues. Overall, The Wicked Hour is a propulsive, engrossing story with plenty of twists. I'd recommend to anyone looking to start a new detective series or lovers of stories with Halloween backdrops. Big thanks to Minotaur and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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