A Playground for Authors Jason White and Michael Schutz-Ryan

Deadlock by Tim Curran

Cover of DeadlockDeadlock is a type of haunted house, or in this case haunted ship, story that’s becoming familiar and also a favourite of mine. Is it scary enough just to have a ghost pop up and say “Boo” every so often? I suppose that it might be, but there’s a sub-genre to the haunted house story that applies to strongly to Deadlock.

I’m not sure where this alternate haunt started, but I think I first saw it appear in Stephen King’s short story 1408. Chronologically, you see something like this in Algernon Blackwood’s old classic The Willows. I’m certain that there are older examples, but you can count on there being a lot more. Much more.

What this type of haunted house story involves is well displayed in Tim Curran’s Deadlock. Charlie Petty is challenged to stay on a cargo ship overnight. It’s a ship that’s rumoured to be haunted. No one will sail her and there are many stories of death and chaos for those crews that have sailed her. If Charlie does this, he will clear up the debt he owes to the collector, the man who also owns the boat.

Charlie is one of those kind of guys. He lets nothing bother him. Even at the beginning of the book, he’s talking to the guy who he owes this money too. It’s a man who’s known as a possible mob guy, and the banter between Charlie and this possible mob guy is priceless. Although Charlie realizes that this mob guy might put a bullet between his eyes, he can’t stop himself from being a smart ass.

Charlie decides to take up the offer. It’s fifty-thousand t0 clear his debt if he does it, so why not.?

I’m not going to go into too many details to avoid spoilers, but what this kind of haunted story involves is like stepping into one universe with its rules and boundaries into another universe with another, more pissed off and poisonous set of rules and boundaries. It’s like going insane within hours, or having someone spike your drink with a heavy dose of LSD. But this trip is real, my friends, and the main character rarely fairs well.

They’re a lot of fun to read and watch, so I was very pleased with this effort by Curran, an author who continues to surprise me and keep me awed and entertained. Read this book. It’s short and a lot of insane fun.

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