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Covenant / John Everson

Leisure / August 2008
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina

Joe Kieran left Chicago to escape the hustle and bustle of reporting the news and other scandals that occur on a daily basis in one of the country’s most corrupt cities. When he settled in the northeastern coastal town of Terral, he found the lack of news to be a pleasant relief, for a time. However, after one of the locals, James Canady, commits suicide by jumping from Terrel’s Peak, Kieran is baffled by his editor’s response when he asks to cover the story.

“Sit this one out, Joe.”

Joe can’t understand why Canady’s suicide isn’t worthy of coverage. It’s the most newsworthy thing that’s happened since Joe came to town. The more Joe thinks about it, the more he needs to know what happened to drive a young man with seemingly everything to live for to end his life on the jagged rocks below the cliff. When Joe discovers that Canady isn’t the first jumper, but rather just the cliff’s latest victim, he can’t ignore the possibility that somehow the deaths could be related. Is there a serial killer loose in Terrel? Joe must find out who or what is causing these crimes.

But uncovering information about the cliff jumpers proves difficult. No one in town wants to talk about what goes on up at Terrel’s Peak. Several of the townsfolk, including the members of the police force tell Joe that he’d be better off to just leave things be. Joe gets a tip from his friend, George, the janitor at the Terrel Times. George tells Joe that Angelica, the town’s resident fortuneteller, might be able to shed some light on the subject. Joe is skeptical but goes to see her anyway. Like others in town, she questions Joe’s motivations and leaves him with more questions than answers.

Further investigation leads Joe to Cindy Marshfield, the girlfriend of the now deceased James Canady. Cindy shares her insights on growing up in Terrel and James’ state of mind prior to his death. While Cindy was able to leave Terrel to attend college, James couldn’t follow her. Something wouldn’t allow him to go. Cindy hypothesized that his mother was to blame, but now has doubts. A greater force could have been responsible.

James Canady’s mother, Rhonda was one of a group of friends who had each lost a child to Terrel’s Peak. This revelation sends Joe back to Angelica, who was also one Rhonda’s friends and seems to be the only one to have escaped the curse. That is until Joe learns that Angelica had a child too, but thought she had saved her daughter by giving her up for adoption. When Angelica goes missing, Joe calls in some favors from friends back in Chicago to find Angelica’s long-lost daughter. Both of their lives are in danger and Joe is running short on time.

Everson allows the storylines to unfurl, carefully layering each of the individual character’s arcs as he crosses genres ending up with a nice blend of mystery and horror. Once Joe Kieran uncovers the source of evil that lurks in Terrel’s Peak, Everson takes the reader on a thrill ride, leaving the reader to wonder if it is even possible for Kieran to contain it.

Covenant is Everson’s first novel. Delirium Books released it in limited edition hardcover in 2004. It went on to win the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. The award led to Leisure’s acquisition of Covenant and its sequel, Sacrifice, which will also be released in mass-market paperback in 2009.

Purchase Covenant by John Everson.

Posted on Friday, September 19, 2008 at 07:57AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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