Book Review: Phobia and Giveaway

13615376Title: Phobia
Author: C.A. Shives
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Firestorm Editions
Publication Date: April 27th 2012
Goodreads | C.A. Shives
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for honest review.

Ex-cop Artemis Herne thought he left the grit and crime of the city in the past when he moved to a small town in Pennsylvania. But the discovery of a woman’s dead body, bound and covered with snakes, sends panic through his community and ignites his investigative instincts.
As the serial killer continues to target his prey, Herne must confront his haunted past to uncover the pattern in the deaths. He soon discovers that every victim suffers from a phobia. And every murder transforms the victim’s worst fear into reality.
Tormented by his personal demons, Herne is forced to face his own fears as he hunts for a murderer who uses terror for a weapon.

Phobia takes place in Hurricane, a small town with only one psychiatrist and a pitifully small police force. When a woman is found brutally murdered due to snake bites, homicide detective Rex Tucker asks his best friend and former cop, Herne, for help. It doesn’t take the cops long to figure out the victim, Amanda Todd, was murdered by the very thing she was most afraid of – snakes. She had a true phobia for the animals. Although it’s peculiar, it doesn’t strike as a pattern right away, not until another victim is found. This time a man, dehydrated after spending several days in a small coffin. The man suffered from severe claustrophobia.

Herne and the other police officer have to look for a pattern, a connection between the murders, which they soon find in the phobias. All people murdered were patients of Dr. Lochhead, the town’s only therapist at some point. But the doctor isn’t so keen on sharing his patient information. When another gruesome murder is discovered, other police forces start to intervene, almost taking the case out of Tucker and Herne’s hands. That’s when Herne realizes that, to find the truth and catch the killer, he may not succeed if he keeps on playing by the rules.

Henre is an intriguing character. Tormented by images of his wife passing away years ago in a consuming fire, he hasn’t looked for love anywhere ever since. He’s a man driven by loneliness and the need for vengeance. This new case drives him into a downward spiral, and forces him to come to terms with his own emotions. It’s intriguing to see these changes in someone, how they turn from uninvolved and disinterested to burning with passion to solve something. Henre’s characterization is really well done. I wasn’t smitten with him at first, but he grew on me as the story progressed.

The mystery itself isn’t very straight-forward. Some leads are thrown up, and the story takes a nice few twists and turns before it reaches its climax. The only downside? I kind of knew who the killer was early on. Yep, bummer. But I’m sure not everyone will notice right away. Even though I found out early on, the book still kept me turning the pages. The characters, their interactions and relationships, the race against time, the setting and narrative were all interesting enough to keep me reading till the very end.

For a debut novel, Phobia is very, very strong. I can’t wait to see what else author C.A. Shives has up her sleeves. I’m hoping for more thrillers. It’s hard to find decent pageturners nowadays, but this author definitely nailed it. The story is well-developed, the pace is fast, and there’s a general sense of urgency that doesn’t drop once until the end of the novel.

I recommend Phobia to all fans of thrillers and suspense novels, hard-boiled detectives and mysteries, but not to the faint of heart.


There will be two giveaways during this tour. The first is for an eBook copy of Phobia, which is hosted on this blog only, and the second is spread over all blogs participating, and is for a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Both giveaways are international. You can participate by filling in the Rafflecopter widgets below!
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  1. I’m doing the Serial Killers reading challenge this year, and this one sounds perfect!

  2. Wow! This looks a little scary but good! I added it to my to-read shelf on Goodreads! Thanks for 2 great giveaways!


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