I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.THE BOULEVARD MONSTER by Jeremy Hepler
Published by Bloodshot Books on April 7, 2017
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I KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD ABOUT ME
You say that I am a madman. You say that I am dangerous. You say that I am the one who has been abducting women, slaughtering them, and burying their corpses all around this city for years. You are wrong, because only part of that statement is true…
I AM NOT A KILLER
I know that you probably won’t believe me. Not now. Not after all that has happened, but I need to tell my side of the story. You need to know how this all began. You need to hear about the birds, but most of all, you need to understand…
I AM NOT THE BOULEVARD MONSTER
THE BOULEVARD MONSTER is the first book I’ve read by author Jeremy Hepler. The narrator is a man named Seth Fowler, who tells this tale as if he were writing all of the pertinent past events in his life down in his own words. He wants to get his side of this story to his wife and daughter. Seth begins his recollections several years ago, on the night he thought he saw a body in a burlap sack in the back of his best friend, Randy’s, truck.
This is where Jeremy Hepler’s creativity really begins to shine. What I was expecting to turn into a dark thriller, of a sort, turns out to be so much more.
“They need to know about Luther and the birds.”
The characters in this novel are complex individuals, each of them fully fleshed out during the course of the story. We get to know Seth, and the mysterious Luther, intimately as each scene unfolds. In Luther’s case, it’s almost as if the more we learn, the less we actually know.
As Luther initiates a deal–albeit one he can’t refuse–with Seth, he sends blue jays as his emissaries to deliver notes. I’ve never before thought of a blue jay with a shudder of apprehension, but that is exactly what Hepler made happen. Each and every time a bird appeared in this story, I could virtually feel Seth’s heart seize with dread, wondering if his every move and thought were being recorded and sent to his new “friend” to evaluate. Before he made the connection, it was merely slightly disconcerting, but once we get into the thick of the novel, their constant presence heightened the tension incredibly.
“Bamboozled by the bird bandits was what we called it. I figured the blue jay that dive-bombed my truck had confused the white piece of paper for a hunk of bread . . . “
I simply cannot say enough about the incredible detail that Seth’s character embodies–especially as this was my first taste of Hepler’s storytelling ability. It takes, in my opinion, an incredible amount of talent to bring a fictional person to life so convincingly in a reader’s mind that one could feel as though we know him, personally; yet the author pulls this off with perfection.
During the years being recounted, Seth occasionally hears stories about a number of prostitutes that have gone missing from the Boulevard area near his town of Mercy. Guilt over whether one of them could have been the body he thought he glimpsed in the back of his friend’s truck becomes an obsession for him–altering his behavior and habits to the extent that those closest to him begin to notice. Although the lifestyle that those women live subject them to more than the average chance of violence, Seth soon finds himself unable to think of anything else.
“. . . Often, sad as it sounds, a missing hooker in a large city is like a lost sock. You throw out a few possibilities of what could’ve happened to it and move on . . . “
As time goes on, even the reader will begin to question the events as seen through Seth’s eyes. This is only part of what makes THE BOULEVARD MONSTER such an incredibly gripping horror novel. When you have so many questions that even the narrator doesn’t know the answers to, the reader can’t help but place themselves, mentally, into the story.
Overall, a solid, well paced novel that I didn’t feel lagged unnecessarily in any area. I will most definitely be looking into future books by Jeremy Hepler.