Book Review: The Homecoming (Niceville #2) by Carsten Stroud

16099140Title: The Homecoming (Niceville #2)

Author: Carsten Stroud

Genre: Horror, Supernatural Horror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon, B&N

From its explosive opening to its eerie climax, The Homecoming is a page-turning, labyrinthine thrill ride that returns to Niceville . . . where evil lives far longer than men do.

When two plane crashes set off a spellbinding chain reaction of murder, inadvertent kidnapping, corporate corruption, and financial double-dealing, it’s not enough that Niceville detective Nick Kavanaugh (ex–Special Forces) has to investigate. He and his wife, family lawyer Kate, have also just taken in brutally orphaned Rainey Teague. Something bothers Nick about Rainey—and it isn’t just that the woman in charge of attendance at Rainey’s prep school has disappeared. In fact, people have long been disappearing from seemingly placid Niceville, including, most disturbingly, Kate’s father. Using his files, Kate and Nick start to unearth Niceville’s blood stained history, but something (or is it Nothing?) stands in their way.

Once again, Carsten Stroud gives us unforgettable characters, including Coker, the steely, amoral police sniper, and Harvill Endicott, an urbanely manipulative psychopath, not to mention Warren Smoles, the most conniving lawyer you will ever meet. Stroud’s unique storytelling gifts bring us into a world where protecting your family from the unknown becomes almost impossible but essential for survival.

Anything is possible in The Homecoming.

After I reviewed the first book in this series, Niceville, I swore I wouldn’t buy the second book. But then I got it as a present from someone who meant well, and obviously thought I’d enjoy it. Based on the synopsis, it sure sounds like the kind of book I’d enjoy. Except that it isn’t. The Homecoming, the second book in the Niceville series, is only slightly better than its predecessor, and it still isn’t very impressive.

There’s too much action. That might be great for fans of noir fiction, or action thrillers, but this book is neither, so it’s remarkably out of place. The book starts with a plane filled with the Chinese mob crashing into a mountain in a terrible accident. The police of Niceville is still trying to figure out who was behind the terrible heist mentioned in the previous book, the bank robbery and then the murder of several police officers. We meet the culprits, and a dangerous cat and mouse game between them unfolds. Rainy Teague is living with our main character, Nick Cavanaugh, and each day, the boy acts stranger and stranger. Nick had to arrest his brother in law, Byron Deitz, for the bank robbery, but he doesn’t think Byron, even though he may occassionally beat his wife and is, in general, a bad person, would be stupid enough to do such a thing. His wife’s dad is still missing and her sister and cousins, Byron’s wife and children, are now living with them.

But the spirits of Niceville haven’t gone to rest yet, and they keep haunting the living. Except that it’s not scary. It’s too grotesque to be scary, the characters perceived in too much detail to keep hold of the major picture, too much stuff going on to truly focus on the macabre. The book details more about the plane crash, the creepy history of the town and the robbery gone wrong than it does about Niceville’s ghosts. The only thing truly scary would be Rainey, because he no longer acts like a little boy, but like something else entirely.

The best scenes for me was when they found the car wreck in the swamp (or whatever it was) and then found the weird skeletons attached. That intrigued me. It was something new, fresh, vibrant. The rest of the book, alas, isn’t like that at all. It’s a dull mix of different genres, and it tries too hard to stand out from the crowd.

The book is slightly better than the first, but it still doesn’t convince me. Too many loose storylines, not enough focus on the hauntings and disappearances, and way too much focus on robbers and mob deals.


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