Four of Clubs #1, Pulp Friction 2015 #3
Detective Ben Nelson’s chilling new case involves seemingly unconnected people—men, women, children—who disappear from their beds and are later found beaten to death. When evidence leads to an offhand comment about voodoo, Ben refuses to acknowledge the possibility of a supernatural element…until his boss orders him to visit a seer named A. Middleton or hand the case over to the Odd Squad—the federal bureau charged with investigating supernatural crimes.
With a simple touch, Artie Middleton can see, feel, and relive the stories held by objects. The last missing person’s case he assisted on left him bedridden, recovering from the same wounds as the victim. His power is one that few would envy. Now a police detective shows up at his door, needing help to find a missing seven-year-old boy, and Artie is torn. He fears what might happen if he agrees but knows the fate of the child if he doesn’t. Even more troubling for Artie is the detective’s effect on him. While Artie can’t allow skin-to-skin contact with a person for fear of what he might see, Ben makes him want to break all the rules he has in place to protect his sanity.
When the two begin working together, they find much more than they expected. And if they can’t stop the perpetrators, the body count will increase.
The Devil’s Bedpost by Parker Williams is part of the Pulp Friction shared universe. Four authors—Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows, Parker Williams, and Laura Harner—each continue a part of the story with their own characters, who also show up in other books within the universe.
This story is the first in the Four of Clubs part of the Pulp Friction storyline and follows Ben and Artie, although it was great to see Laurant from King of Hearts make an appearance giving his usual brand of ‘helpful’ advice.
I really liked the setup with these characters. Ben is a sceptic and doesn’t believe in the supernatural while Artie has an ability that means he has to be aware of it all the time or risk being seriously hurt.
Although it’s a short story I found myself quickly invested in the characters, and their world. The author does a great job in setting up the world building from the first page, and although I had read the first two in the series, I doubt I’d have any issues in picking up this one and being able to follow what was going on. In saying that though, I’d recommend reading the series in order—I suspect that will work better with the way this joint universe and storytelling has been set up.
Ben and Artie are great characters, very three dimensional with their backgrounds, and issues. I loved the details, like Ben’s dinner with his family, and his obsession with The Princess Bride, and Artie’s dog and the way the animal not only protects him, but provides him with friendship and company. It’s quirks like this that make a character real and the author portrays them really well, so that they are a natural part of the storyline, giving insights into the characters without slowing down the plot.
I was also fascinated by Artie’s ability and the fact that he has to be so careful. So what happens when he finds someone he wants to touch? Or needs to? I’m going to have to keep reading to find out.
Not that that, but the author left this story with one doozy of a cliffhanger. I read it, and tried to turn pages that weren’t there to find out what happened next! Very effective, and edge of your seat stuff. The villain is completely out of left field and I didn’t see it coming—very impressive. Good thing I have the next story to read….
I’d recommend The Devil’s Bedpost for readers who enjoy good characterisation, and reading about characters who have major hurdles to overcome, abilities with consequences, and love serials and shared universes. 5 stars out of 5.