Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Deep Pink, by Sarah A. Hoyt

Great good morning to all my friends and neighbors out there in Internet land! And to whatever family members have stumbled on this review, remember this: I don’t do horror! This book is NOT horror!

Sarah Hoyt has written a delightful book! Whether it will be a book for a tiny little niche of readers, or something with wide appeal, remains to be seen. However, I loved it! Here's the cover art, also by Hoyt under the Covers Girl brand, followed by an Amazon Associates link to the Kindle edition. Click it, and if you buy it, I get a quarter or so.

A quick aside, before I forget it: a number of the characters that appear in this novel have the same names as fans (and perhaps fledgling authors) I have encountered in places where the author has a presence. I believe this practice is called red-shirting. However, usually red shirts only show up long enough to get killed. That doesn’t happen with these characters. You don’t have to know who these people are in real life to appreciate the story, but it’s a delightful little inside joke. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve been red-shirted twice, and it’s a wonderful experience; immortality without all the work.

The plot. There is a crisis occurring among the death metal bands in Cleveland Ohio, and that’s a sentence that I never thought I would generate in my lifetime. Bands are changing their names from (these are just examples I fabricated) Filthy Slime Killers to Precious Pink Kitties; the members wearing pink frilly clothes and Hello Kitty head bands, and singing music about bubbles and puppies and kitties in falsetto voices. This does not sit well with their fans.

Attempting to get to the bottom of things, death metal band manager Ron Rando calls private investigator Seamus Lebanon Magis, known as Leb, and asks him to investigate. Magis visits the apartment of one Albert Schneider, a semi-prominent band member, and finds that his residence looks like “multiple Disney princesses have exploded.” All of the d├ęcor is pink, glitter and stuffed animals are everywhere, and Schneider Is wearing a pink jumpsuit. However, Schneider says he is still a servant of the Dark, but that he’s under new management. At this point, both Schneider and Leb hear an ethereal voice saying “Tut-tut, don’t talk!”, and Schneider is terrified. Leb starts to ask if he really believes Satan is in control, but Schneider interrupts, says to call the Boss “Peggy”, and refuses to say more. 

Next morning, Schneider’s body is found, butchered.

Pretty creepy, right? I can’t say that it gets worse, but it does get...more involved.

In short order, we have the reappearance of Emma, Leb’s long lost love, a little girl (Lilly) who has vanished, and a big Chevrolet (The Brown Disgrace) that exists pretty much on its own terms.

Nothing links the bizarre behavior of the band members and Lilly’s disappearance, until Leb follows a lead out to Mary of the Pines Seminary. There he meets a former member of the band Punk Sausage, a seminary student who lost his faith, and experimented with being in a band. However, when bizarre things started to happen, he had the theological training to recognize that this was more than drug-induced mental illness. He briefs Leb on what he thinks is going on. 

In an amusingly intricate monologue about the distinctions between the natural, preternatural, supernatural, he loses Leb LONG before he runs out of things to say. 

(I call this amusing, because it is EXACTLY like Theological Disputes I Have Known; but if you get trapped into one of those, it won’t be amusing at all. Hoyt captures the essence of the savant in lecture mode, making one long to have it never happen again.)

In addition to the theological hypothesizing, though, the seminarian DOES provide Leb with evidence that something bizarre IS happening, and warns him to stay away. 

(and small spoiler, provides support later).

And we go on from there!

It’s rare to find an author who can exposit the supernatural aspects of a commonly-held belief system, without sounding either evangelical or contemptuous. Hoyt is one of the few I’ve seen who can do that, and remain WITHIN the framework of mainstream science fiction and fantasy. And her portrayal of the Dark One is a FABULOUS bit, with the Father of Lies sporting pigtails with pink ribbons, wearing a pinafore, and attending a tea-party. Evidently, there are SOME rules that must NOT be broken, else consequences, you know?

As always, her plot is consistent, and her characters are recognizable as people you might encounter, or live with, or be.

I hope this was a fun book for her to write; it certainly was fun to read.

Peace be on your household.

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