THE ASHES Author: Vincent Zandri Publisher: Bear Media Pages: 277 Genre: Thriller/Horror/Romantic Suspense
HORROR IN THE DARK WOODS
It’s been eight years since artist and single mom, Rebecca
Underhill, was abducted and left to
die in an old broken down house located in the middle of the dark woods. But
even if her abductor, Joseph William Whalen, has since been killed, another,
more insidious evil is once more out to get her in the form of the Skinner. The
son of an abusive butcher, Skinner intends on finishing the job Whalen started
but failed at.
How is he going to get to Rebecca?
He’s going to do it through her children, by luring them
into the cornfield behind the old farmhouse they live in.
HORROR IN THE DEPTHS
Now, armed with the knowledge that the Skinner has escaped
incarceration at a downstate facility for the criminally insane, Rebecca must
face the most horrifying challenge of her adult life: Rescuing the children not
from a house in the woods, but from the abandoned tunnels that run underneath
But the Skinner is watching Rebecca’s every move.
Horrifying question is, will she live long enough to save
The old homicide detective sits
behind his metal desk surrounded by the cold quiet of the early morning,
staring forlornly into the radiant screen on his department-issued laptop. He’s
been using the laptop, which is integrated with the department’s web server,
for years and years now, but he still fondly recalls the days when his desktop
supported only a telephone connected to an old fashioned landline and beside
that, an IMB Selectric typewriter. And how could he ever forget the old two
He glances at his inbox and the two
dozen or so new emails that have come his way since he last checked it the
previous evening. He scans the emails for their importance, relegating most of
them to routine, until he comes to one marked, “URGENT: Serial Murderer Hanover
The detective, whose name is Nick
Miller, is a tall, wiry, white-haired man. He has been on the force for more
years than a man should be. Or so he’s been told countless times by his peers
inside the department. But he’s a widower who can’t seem to get over the fact
that his wife is gone, even years after her untimely death on an operating
table after suffering a burst aneurism. It also explains why he’s sitting
behind his desk, suffering from the pangs of a whiskey hangover, on a quiet
He opens the email.
“To Whom It May Concern,” reads the
department wide message. “The former cellmate of New
registered sex offender and convicted murderer, Joseph William Whalen, has
escaped from the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric
Center in New Hampton, New York
while en route to a routine medical review at an upstate facility. Lawrence
Frederick Hanover, 69, Caucasian, was convicted on several counts of murder in
the first degree and is considered extremely dangerous. Both guards who were
assisting with the transfer were killed during an apparent violent exchange
with Hanover, aka Skinner, or The
Skinner. His present whereabouts is unknown.”
Miller exhales, sits back in his swivel chair.
The email originates not from the
FBI but from the state police, most notably, the Rensselaer County Division. He
recalls Whalen as the maximum security inmate who, not long after his release,
attempted to abduct and kill the same woman, Rebecca
Underhill, whom he’d abducted back
when she was a little girl in 1977. Her twin sister, Molly, was also the target
of his attacks. Although Molly has since died, Rebecca, still lives in the area
with her son.
The email comes with several
pictures of Hanover, including
his most recent mugshots and psychiatric facility photo records. The small,
bald, scraggily faced little man doesn’t seem like he could hurt a fly much
less another human being. But Miller wasn’t born yesterday and he knows that
even a little man can kill as efficiently and quickly as a big, monster of a
man. Perhaps even more quickly and efficiently.
Sitting back up, he scans the rest
of the email.
“While state police have issued
state-wide APBs and launched a task force to hunt for Hanover’s
whereabouts, we are asking that police cooperate in every way possible to
ensure the quick, efficient, and otherwise discreet apprehension of the serial
murderer. All communications should be delivered directly to this office via
the email/phone number listed.”
Once more Miller sits back.
“The quick, efficient, and
otherwise discreet apprehension of the serial murderer,” he whispers. “Somebody
fucked up and that somebody doesn’t want the press to get ahold of this
Sitting there, alone in the quiet
office, Miller feels a distinct and very unpleasant chill run up and down his
“What would a schooled Statie or
FBI pathologist have to say about this rather delicate situation?” he whispers
quietly to himself. “That a killer as skilled and hungry as Hanover
is gonna slip up and be found sleeping in some crappy hotel somewhere? That
they can then slip him back inside his rubber room at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric,
like he’s some two-bit bank robber?” The detective laughs aloud. “I’ll tell you
something right now. If the Skinner doesn’t want to be found, then no way in
hell he’s gonna be found. Simple as that. He didn’t escape to be free. He
escaped to kill, to butcher, and that’s all.”
His bloodshot eyes once more
focused on the laptop screen, the old detective shifts the curser so that it
clicks on the Action Taken box beside the open email. He clicks on Saved Mail.
Closing the laptop lid, he finds
that his hands are shaking. He opens the bottom desk drawer, pulls out the
bottle of Jack Daniels stored inside it. Pouring a generous shot into his empty
ceramic coffee cup, he drinks it down.
“Skinner,” he whispers. “Who will
you flay next? Whose flesh will you feast on?”
How do I sing the praises of this book without giving spoilers??? I don’t know how! I will tell you that many, many moons ago, I fell in love with Vincent Zandri’s work when I read his Dick Moonlight series. I also loved his book, The Remains, one of my favorite by the ever talented hands of the best noir, horror, thriller author alive. Much like The Remains, The Ashes instantly captivated taking me back to the life and horrors of Rebecca Underhill.
From ups to downs, to twists and turns, Mr. Zandri never failed to give me that roller coaster of suspense, that breath taking intensity of horror and that dash of edge-of-your-seat oh em gees. Mr. Zandri is awesome like that. He knows what his fans love and throws it at them like a bone to a dog.
If you are a fan of horror, thrillers and rollercoaster rides, then Vincent Zandri’s latest amazing piece of work is what you seek. You need to stop what you are doing, grab a copy of this book and sit back for the ride of your life. This is so much more than a 5 star worthy book. This is thriller at it’s finest level. I can’t wait to read another from this talented man!
Meet the Author
of the 2015 PWA Shamus Award and the 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Original Paperback
Novel, Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES, USA
TODAY, and AMAZON KINDLE No.1 bestselling author of more than 25 novels
including THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT WEEPS, EVERYTHING BURNS, and ORCHARD GROVE. He
is also the author of numerous Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL,
TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA among them. Harlan Coben has described THE
INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and
haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!”
Zandri’s list of domestic publishers include Delacorte, Dell, Down & Out
Books, Thomas & Mercer and Polis Books, while his foreign publisher is Meme
Publishers of Milan and Paris. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont
College, Zandri’s work is translated
in the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese. Recently, Zandri was the
subject of a major feature by the New York Times. He has also made appearances
on Bloomberg TV and FOX news. In December 2014, Suspense Magazine named
Zandri’s, THE SHROUD KEY, as one of the “Best Books of 2014.”
Recently, Suspense Magazine selected WHEN SHADOWS COME as one of the “Best
Books of 2016”. A freelance photo-journalist and the author of the popular
“lit blog,” The Vincent Zandri Vox, Zandri has written for Living
Ready Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union
(Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, and many more. He lives in New
York and Florence, Italy.