Remember how I said I was in the mood for some horror? Yeah, I haven't quenched the craving yet! Two years ago, I was completely blown away by Stephen M. Irwin's debut, The Dead Path. I have been waiting for a new release from him ever since. And this month it finally came! The Broken Ones released on August 7 and I had a chance to dive in -- almost without interruption -- this past weekend.
Oscar Mariani is a Barely. His division, the Nine-Ten -- nicknamed "the Barelies" -- was created in the aftermath of Gray Wednesday. On that day, without explanation, everyone became haunted by a ghost only they could see. The stress of the occurrence led to an increase in crimes that could only be blamed on the mental anguish of having your own personal ghost. Any case thought to be linked to the ghosts falls under Nine-Ten purview. Three years later, the excuse is wearing thin and Mariani's division is on its last leg. But when Mariani's brought in on a case involving a mutilated corpse marked with occult-like symbols, he's adamant that it not be turned over to homicide. After all, the markings alone make it his responsibility. And when the body is accidentally sent to be destroyed before the investigation has gotten off the ground, Mariani becomes dead set on solving it no matter what.
As with Dead Path, Irwin again proved that he is a master storyteller! The Broken Ones is, at heart, a detective story but the blending of mystery and paranormal is excellent. Not only that, but this future world plagued by ghosts, a failing economy, and a struggling government felt completely real and wholly believable.
The plotting alone is spot on. I was left guessing until the end, carried along in Mariani's investigation every step of the way and unable to unravel the mystery myself. And while it's not necessary to be left guessing in a mystery, it's always fun when an author is able to keep things hidden from the reader until they're revealed to the character.
The Broken Ones is a must read for horror fans, mystery fans, and readers looking for an excellent dark thriller. This book and it's predecessor are so great, I wish I could read them both again for the very first time!