Books like this are why I like book clubs. I never would have picked this up on my own, but it was the January pick for my library sci-fi book club, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We read the Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories for the December meeting (Lovecraft was not a great person or a great writer – so many flowery adjectives! – but I was glad to know the backstory behind the beastie that’s taken over the internet), so this was a nice companion piece.
Dan Carter is a cop, but retires to become a PI when a child kidnapping case goes wrong, leading to the death of the bad guy and also Carter’s partner. He’s settling into the Keith Mars life when an attorney shows up at his office, telling him he’s been named as the sole beneficiary of Alfred Hill, who’s been missing for seven years and was just legally declared dead. One problem: he’s never heard of Alfred Hill. He drives to Providence to see the property the mystery man left to him, and is surprised to find out it’s a bookstore. It’s being run by Hill’s niece, who is very startled to learn that the store was left to a stranger and not to her. It turns out that she’s a descendant of HP Lovecraft himself, and Carter’s a descendant of someone everyone thought was a fictional character of Lovecraft’s, and when things get weird and people start dying, Carter and Lovecraft have to work together to figure out what’s going on.
The action is fast, the characters are good, and the bad guys are suitably creepy. There are some loose threads and some hand-waving away important things, which I guess works because hey, magic, but overall it’s an engaging, fast-paced story. I’m not sure I entirely followed the ending, which seemed a little abrupt. I’m looking forward to the book club’s thoughts on that aspect. (Follow-up post-book club meeting: there’s apparently a sequel, which will expand on the abrupt ending more. On the list!)