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Niceville: Book One of the Niceville Trilogy (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – August 13, 2013
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“NICEVILLE and THE HOMECOMING, by Carsten Stroud: crazy-good supernatural/crime/horror epic. Blew me away. Really one novel. You’ve never read anything like it. Faulkner crossed with Steve King.”
“Niceville belies its name at every turn in Carson Stroud’s wickedly entertaining thriller.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Terrific dialogue, oddball characters, and a wild story make this a great read.”
“Strange, outrageous and wonderful. . . . Superior storytelling. . . . [If] you savor the blackest of comedy and fear that evil is all around us, embodied, in both flesh-and-blood and supernatural creatures, then you might enjoy this toxic tale.”
—The Washington Post
“Glorious. . . . Stroud manages to combine just about all the pulp genres you can imagine in his tale—hard-boiled noir, supernatural horror, Southern gothic melodrama, multigenerational family tragedy. . . . [with his] gifts for flat-out storytelling and sharp characterization.”
“[A] thrill-ride. . . . As enthralling as a tale by the Brothers Grimm.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Mesmerizing. . . . Niceville has claws as sharp as the soaring crows’ talons.”
—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Terrific. . . . A mystery but also a ghost story, with a touch of horror. . . . This is a very sharp . . . view of traditional Southern Gothic.”
—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“A unique genre-bending novel that will haunt readers long after the last page. . . . Niceville is a town readers have to visit for themselves in order to believe.”
—The Free Lance-Star
"The last time I was so swiftly taken over by a work of fiction was probably when I read A Game of Thrones. Carsten Stroud’s wonderful Niceville isn’t really much like George R. R. Martin's fantasy novel, apart from being equally hard-boiled and engrossing, but it rockets around its deceptively staid Southern town, pulling bad guys and worse guys and long-ago misdeeds into a widening and unfolding tale about every kind of wickedness. Somehow it manages to get tighter, nastier, and more delightful as it rolls along toward its lovely and completely black-hearted final pages."
“A simmering read; one part thriller, one part suspense, and taken with a hefty sprinkling of supernatural hot spice, it’s one of the most compulsive page-turners of the year.”
—The New York Journal of Books
“[Stroud] literally gives plenty of bang for the buck.”
“A compelling work that grabs your attention from page one.”
“Think Stephen King crossed with Mickey Spillane.”
—Open Letters Monthly
“A truly one-of-a-kind tour de force, Niceville may be hard to categorize by genre, but it’s easy to describe as a reading experience—wildly, insanely entertaining.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The story itself is a tough one to summarize in a paragraph, but suffice to say that it involves a string of child disappearances going back 80 years, a long-simmering feud between the town's founding families, and a current-day bank robbery. There are a number of subplots, so many in fact that the author doesn't satisfactorily resolve all of them by the end of the book. Granted, not every story needs to be boxed up perfectly with a little bow at the end, and there may be more about this town in the future, but this lack of closure did hurt the book a little. The other negative effect of having so many separate strings is that there isn't a great deal of character development, making some of the "bad guys" in the book pretty much interchangeable and leaving even the heroes a little thin.
The story involving the town's history and what lies behind the disappearances is what really makes this an enjoyable experience. The bank robbery and its aftermath play a role, but the current events really take a backseat to the history. I found that for 350+ pages, the book moved incredibly quickly and I couldn't wait to get to the end. The mystery is one that many readers may figure out, but that doesn't make this any less captivating.
I would have given this five stars had it been slightly longer to allow for a little more character development or a better wrap-up of some plot threads. Even without that, it's a great book and one I would highly recommend.
As a purely crime/action novel, "Niceville" excels. The bad guys are realistically bad, without going over the top, and the good guys have some issues. People's backgrounds become nicely tangled up together, with yesterday's baggage influencing today's decisions. In a word, it's all very believable. Now, mix in the pervasive evil that hangs over Niceville, where the dead aren't always dead, and the living have a strange habit of disappearing. Again, it isn't overplayed, it's expertly mixed with several threads of action to produce a thoroughly creepy effect. Add in the author's wicked but understated sense of humour, and you have a unique, captivating, thoroughly entertaining book.
My favourite off-the-wall book of the year is Nick Harkaway's "Angelmaker", but this is running a very close second. Even if you're not a fan of horror/paranormal novels, give this a try, it doesn't have the unrelenting darkness that many in that genre embrace. It's simply excellent on all levels!
The premise started off good - an unexplained mysterious disappearance. Then there was a rather unbelievable bank robbery and a farfetched sniper barrage. Intermingled with all of this is a town where every man seems to be a brutish wife-beater, a corrupt cop, an ex-military washout or some other form of gritty ex-law-enforcement. Every woman seems to be an abused (in one way or another) homemaker. Everyone else in this town is either engaged in some form of sexual deviance or is driving (as the author likes to put it) one-forty even though most cars are not even capable of driving at that speed.
I think the premise of this book was good - the underlying idea that sparked the plot was good, but the delivery of the content failed for me. I don't know, maybe it was just me, but I also had a hard time keeping track of all the characters in the book. At one point, I jotted down the main characters on a piece of paper tried to keep track of them that way. This could have been a spellbinding tale. There were many mysterious and well-described elements of intrigue that were simply not developed. Unfortunately, it was all I could do to maintain interest enough to finish it, and the ending was as if the author ran out of steam and just wanted to wrap it all up in an instant. I also didn't appreciate all of the unnecessary language and stereotypes, though they were probably in-character for the types portrayed in this book.
This book is not a fun, fast paced summer read. My advice is to skip it - there are plenty of other authors out there with books that will stir you or move you in a memorable way. This is not one of those books.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Niceville" started out superbly for me. A boy disappears--literally and instantaneously--while walking along a Niceville street. Read morePublished 4 days ago by P. Mann
This writer is more interested in explaining the settings in great detail, rather than a story. Big miss for mePublished 1 month ago by Disie
Absolutely phenomenal beginning to a spellbinding trilogy. The story is so complex, yet smooth and easy to follow. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Constant Reader
I’m going to come right out with a positive on this, mostly to ease my guilt for what I’m going to say later, but still… this should be a TV show. Read morePublished 4 months ago by J. Aaron Bellamy
I never got invested in the characters or the plot. The book is a series of vignettes which move the story, such as it is, along. Read morePublished 4 months ago by vegasbill
Excellent, great funny analogies. Can't wait to read book two.Published 5 months ago by Loretta Averna
This is an unusual combination of serious crime drama and ghost story. I know that sounds weird and maybe you're thinking that it might be unlikely to work - but somehow it does. Read morePublished 5 months ago by James Walsh
As I write this review, the average rating for this novel is 3 and a half stars, and that's about what I'd give it too. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Donald E. Gilliland