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Symphony of Blood, A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case by [Pepper, Adam]
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Symphony of Blood, A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Length: 205 pages

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Editorial Reviews


"Stellar prose, vivid characters...Pepper writes with a confidence and mastery that makes you feel as if you are being led on a tour of the seedier side of life, and your tour guide is a man who basks in the grimy filth of the of the best modern incarnations of the classic detective."
   -Dreadful Tales

"A fast, fun and adrenaline filled read" 


"Adam Pepper writes with zeal, verve, and a steak knife to the throat."
   -Scott Nicholson, Author of Liquid Fear

Product Details

  • File Size: 408 KB
  • Print Length: 205 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: July 22, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005E8S6AE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,313,801 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
(Cross-posted from the Adarna SF book blog)

Hank is a private investigator who has to solve the case of a man-eating monster. I'd peg this at both contemporary fantasy and horror. The fantastical and horror elements come from-well... the man-eating monster. The protagonist is a fairly typical P.I., but Pepper does excellent characterization, so it's hard not to be charmed by Hank.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. I was hooked right from page one, it's fast-paced, and the dialogue and the descriptions of the characters are delightful. They're quirky people: Sandy the kleptomaniac secretary, Joe at the Pool Hall (when he shrugs, his chins line up like a seven layer cake), Mackenzie the moody rich girl who knows more than she's letting on-and there's plenty of other personalities. I swear I was chuckling or grinning at something on every third page.

The monster itself is original too. Pepper masterfully writes the creature in such a way that the reader has an idea of what it could be like, but not with too much detail that all the mystery is gone. What's unknown is always more terrifying than what is completely known. The creature is also a surprisingly well-developed character on its own right, and is actually more sympathetic compared to the humans that it gets to know (fairly intimately).

I was surprised that a sizable portion of the book is written from the monster's point of view, and it's one of the highlights. I'm a sucker for body horror, and I was giddy with delight at the descriptions of the monster devouring people from the inside out. It's simultaneously fun and disgusting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I originally downloaded the sample and enjoyed it, but, to be honest, the price and lower scoring reviews dissuaded me. I wasn't sure I wanted to take a chance. Then I noticed the book was on sale months later, so I snapped it up and decided to see if the poorer reviews were right-on, or not.

Well. For the most part, they were.

The premise itself is rather unoriginal: PI is hired to protect self-centered socialite. It's the supernatural aspects and Pepper's great writing that made the book worthwhile.

Sadly, however, that wasn't enough.

No, the book is copyedited just fine.

Yes, the structure is odd. I didn't find it as distracting as others did, but I can't say I enjoyed it. It was a relief to finally see some pieces of the puzzle fall into place once I got to the monster's POV, but I think that's more of a flaw than a positive. I could live with it, though. I can see what the author was going for, so I'm okay with it.

The real problem was that huge, cavernous plot hole. I got to the last page and let's just say I would have heaved it were this a print book. I don't get it? Why? I'm willing to suspend disbelief. I'm willing to go along for the ride. But it's got to make sense, and you've got to give me some sort of pay-off. But in this case, I read through the entire book, went through the whole thing, and I felt ripped off. Seriously pissed. One bullet pages and pages ago would have solved the whole thing.

That being said, Pepper is an amazing writer and storyteller. My gripes are all structural. So I would, and will, read other works by him.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Hank Mondale wanted to be a cop but his gambling, alcohol, and drug addictions ruined his record. Instead, he is now a private detective barely scraping by, so when a wealthy and famous man named Blake hires him to figure out where the monster pursuing his daughter is hiding out, he takes the case in spite of the odd sound of it. Particularly since Blake and his daughter insist that this is a literal, shape-changing, lizard-like monster after her.

This is a book that suffers from bad structure, a plethora of unlikable characters, and a serious lack of editing.

I can look beyond the editing problems, but the structure is intensely problematic. The first half of the book is told entirely from the detective's point of view, only to abruptly switch and have the next 25% or so back-track and tell what occurred from the monster's perspective. Then the last bit of the book reverts back to the detective's perspective. This gives the book an incredibly odd structure and simultaneously removes most of the mystery and suspense. Either choose to be investigating the monster or be the monster or alternate more quickly between the two to maintain some mystery.

Similarly, none of the characters are likable. They are all the type that you would either move away from on the subway or roll your eyes at them behind their back. There needs to be at least one character the reader can root for in a horror mystery.

All that said, Pepper does have some writing abilities. He clearly has a creative mind and is capable of telling a story one can follow. This would be a good draft, but not a final published work. He needs to decide if he wants to tell the monster's story of the detective's, then rewrite entirely from that point of view and also invest in an editor. If these steps are followed, Pepper could have a solid book here. As it stands now, though, I can't in good faith recommend it to anyone, even staunch horror fans.
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