Crossroads Showdown by Keta Diablo
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (66 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox
Tough PI, Frank McGuire, attempts to help the FBI locate three abducted children from a small town in West Virginia. While channeling his inner spirt for assistance, he mistakenly calls forth a ghost. As Frank races against time to locate the missing girls, he receives help from the most unlikely of sources. To complicate matters, Rand has decided its time Frank commit to their relationship -- or run the risk of Rand being gone when he returns.
The paranormal aspect of this Crossroads installment takes a number of intriguing turns as Frank pushes at the envelope of his knowledge and his gifts to try to deal with an elusive child haunting him. The suspense ramp-up is so well done, giving the readers shivers and heart-clenching moments in turn. In fact, the set up, as Frank does his investigative work, is so well done, therein lies the major issue with this story.
One almost gets the feeling that the author ran out of time. Frank proceeds slowly, both in his methodical detective work and in his coaxing out his reclusive visitor, with the slow reveals and bits of information a suspense reader needs. Suddenly the brakes go on hard enough for whiplash. Solution and resolution come suddenly, out of nowhere, and really have little to do with Frank’s careful work. This is a shame since Ms. Diablo’s writing is marvelous, her descriptions and dialogue painting clear pictures of character and setting.
As a hero, Frank is likable and flawed, as a good suspense hero should be, with his professional instincts firmly in place and his personal instincts sometimes lost at sea. The first three quarters of this story worked for me, even the issue of not having Frank’s love interest actually present for most of the story is handled well, but the ending is rushed and does not, unfortunately, fulfill its promise. A little more time in the creative slow-cooker, and I think this could have been a truly astonishing work.
Ms. Diablo is a writer of imposing imagination, creating characters the reader connects to and situations that are intriguing and fresh. I have the feeling we’ve been set up for more from Frank and Rand in the future and I, for one, am eager to see what’s next for these two.