Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

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At first, John Persons seems like a typical chain-smoking, trench coat-wearing private investigator straight out of a noir movie. He refers to women as broads, dames, skirts, and sometimes birds. However, since this story takes place in the present day, people used to talking about bootylicious selfies have no idea what he’s talking about.

It’s not long before we figure out that John isn’t a typical private eye. He’s got supernatural powers, a voice that argues with him inside his head, and he deals with supernatural cases. I liked one bit in which an exorcism is described like removing a tumor. As you can guess from the cover, he ends up dealing with shape-changing, tentacled Lovecraftian monsters with eyes covering their bodies.

There are a lot of cool moments, but on the downside, it felt like the writer was trying too hard to be poetic. For example, instead of just saying, “the moon” like everybody else, we get “everybody’s favorite satellite.” A tongue is referred to as a red muscle and so forth. There were descriptions that made it hard for me to picture what was going on, and sometimes, I was unsure if a passage was meant to be taken literally or metaphorically. These moments distracted from the story rather than adding to it.

On the plus side, there were moments where the poetic descriptions worked and it is a lot of fun overall. What’s not to like about a private eye investigating Lovecraftian horrors?

Purchase on Amazon

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