A serial killer on the loose doesn’t seem like the kind of character you would find in a ghost story, and things might seem even weirder when you toss in a love story, but all the elements come together perfectly in A Wicked Thing by Michael Kasenow.
The basic plot might cause an eye roll at first because a ghost pining for her lost love is one of the biggest clichés around but it’s a cliché because it works, and the extra twists provided by the author make it work very well.
The main character, Jonathan MacAlister, is the type of guy who’s a joy to read about. He is a genuinely nice guy but he has a troubled past that haunts him, and his past isn’t the only thing doing the haunting since he arrived in New Brunswick, because the ghost of a 19th-century woman, Mary McLaughlin, has taken an interest in him.
As if being haunted by a ghost wasn’t enough, Jonathan also has his hands full with new next-door neighbor Kaitlin, who has taken a romantic shine to him, and Tara Walsh. Fortunately, most of his involvement with Tara is through interacting with the police because Tara is serious bad news. She is a serial killer with an insatiable hunger for the finer things in life, and she has figured out that killing people is the most satisfying way to get what she wants.
Kasenow does a great job of making the characters seem real and making the reader feel emotionally invested in them, and readers who enjoy a bit of the macabre will be thrilled with the innovative ways that Tara uses to send people to their deaths. Hacking and slashing isn’t enough for this woman; she has turned killing into an art form.
There are a few moments throughout the book where it seems like the author simply doesn’t want any of his research to go to waste, like at the beginning of Chapter 8 where a page and a half are dedicated to describing landscape. A similar thing happens at the beginning of Chapter 24, where almost an entire paragraph is spent delving into the logging history of the area. These in-depth descriptions wouldn’t be bad except they seem to have nothing to do with the story itself, and are the main reason I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5.
However, there is no doubt that Kasenow is a master with words. His detailed description of Mary’s anguish and pain as she first breaks free from the mist that separates the living from the dead is one of the most riveting things I’ve ever read, providing both sympathy for and fear of the ghost that’s determined to keep certain secrets hidden.
A Wicked Thing by Michael Kasenow offers an exciting adventure for fans of ghost stories, love stories, and murder mysteries, providing all three in a perfect balance within the pages of one book.