The Stranger Times – CK McDonnell

“The two men stood on the rooftop, watching the city toss and turn in its sleep.”

Hannah is feeling rather desperate for work when she lands a job as the assistant editor with the Stranger Times newspaper. As a result, she hasn’t actually researched the publication much – and is more than a little shocked to discover she’s now proofreading articles on vampires and bigfoot. Oops! Still, a job is a job. Which is all fine and good until tragedy strikes in her first week. But the investigation into a death a little too close to home is met with more resistance than usual, and both darker forces and deadlier foes than any of the team might have wholly believed real…

I’ve been swithering (good Scottish word there ;)) about this book since I read it. It was a good concept and certainly entertaining, and I did enjoy a lot of it. However, I was almost surprised to find that it wasn’t a debut effort. The writing style just felt a little like it needed… something… to lift it, and to make this a great book rather than an okay one.

I think my main issue was the way the plot just grows and grows, and by the end it felt like an extra several layers had been added over and above what felt organic. Some is teased at the beginning, but then there’s this other element. And oh, here’s another, and, and, and – and a couple were a little too deus ex machina. Hmm.

There was almost a slight feel that the author was trying too hard with some of the characters, too. I could sense an almost Douglas Adams attempt at times, or perhaps Pratchett, but without quite enough panache to carry it off. The drunken, foul mouthed editor (with a backstory, natch) was particularly pantomime, which was a shame.

Still, it is very readable. I’d pick up another book in the series, and I suspect it’d work a lot better purely by already having half the elements introduced. Volume one has about half a series’ worth of ideas crammed in as it is!

NetGalley eARC: 432 pages / 50 chapters
First published: January 2021
Series: none (so far?)
Read from 8th-16th January 2021

My rating: 6.5/10

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