The Homecoming – Carsten Stroud

homecoming

The Homecoming by Carsten Stroud is the second novel in a series that started with Niceville two years ago. My initial review of Niceville was very positive with the regret that I felt Stroud had tried to do too much with the book. Was it a mystery? A crime novel? A ghost story? Or somehow with great ambition, Stroud tried to make it all three. He did well but I felt he left much unsaid. In The Homecoming, Carsten Stroud continues the tale and begins to fill in what was missing in Niceville.
…And only last night, right here where he was standing, right on these steps, Kate had opened these same black doors onto a thing that had no explanation, no framework, no reason to exist that fit into any of the outer world’s reality. It was utterly strange, and it was hostile–hate filled, hungry, mindless–something out of a nightmare world, something alien and terrifying and inexplicable.    The both saw it, Nick and Kate.    And they both saw the woman–the image of the woman–who had stepped out of that old mirror in a haze of green light and confronted the thing in the doorway. They had recognized her from an old picture. It was a woman named Glynis Ruelle, who had died in 1939. This had actually happened last night…
   Nick and Kate Kavanaugh, having so recently survived the events that resulted in finding the missing child Rainey Teague. Rainey who somehow stared into an antique mirror and then disappeared only to be found later buried in a sealed crypt. A crypt that hadn’t been opened in over a hundred years. Now Nick and Kate have sheltered Kate’s sister and her two children as well from an abusive husband and father. A husband, Byron Dietz who had just been stopped in possession of stolen bank money. A robbery that had killed several of Nick’s fellow officers.    There are millions of dollars missing. Cops dead. FBI questioning everyone. A plane crashing into a murder of crows. And beneath it all. A small boy possessed of ghosts. Ghosts who want to live again.
…”Are you coming with me?” Anora asked.    Talitha shook her head.    “No, Missus. I wish I might. I can’t.”    “Yes you can. I forgive you. It’s not too late for you. You can go to the pastor at Plaquemine and confess. To a judge. You can…atone.”    “Missus, I believe I done that already. For what I done to you, Mister London has killed me.”    “Killed you?”    “Yessum. Mister London has killed me with a rope down in the box maze and now I am hung in the juniper willow with a note I never wrote pinned to my dress. Mister London, he don’t collect I never got my letters, but Second Samuel knows.”    She paused for a moment, as if listening.    “They calling for me now, Missus. My run is done. I am bound for unconsecrated ground, because I am a whore and a murderess. I only come to take you to the mirror. Remember me to Second Samuel, if you can. He was a fine daddy to me, and I am sorry I was such a bad daughter…”
   And did I mentioned there was also a mob enforcer bent on finding the missing robbery money for himself?    As with Niceville, Stroud packs The Homecoming with a cast of characters and dialogue not seen much these days. In fact you may have to go back to William Diehl’s Sharky’s Machine for wit like you will find here.    A terrific read and setting up the third book which I hope is soon to come.         

             
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