With author Richard Chizmar’s first volume of the Boogeyman story – CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN – we were treated to an interesting meta-fueled marriage of true crime and horror – the author weaving himself, his family, hometown, friends, and co-workers into an all to real fictional account of a serial killer’s rampage not just through his town, but through his life.
CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN was an exciting twist on a sub-genre ready for just such an event.
With this latest journey home – BECOMING THE BOOGEYMAN – Chizmar is back to his old tricks but with an interesting, and even more terrifying take on social media, group hysteria, the power of misinformation, and the importance of having a support system that doesn’t fail – even when you might.
This second adventure in this continuing storyline returns us to the author’s home – a feature film has been made of his first tale – and the killer Joshua Gallagher has become a “Hannibal Lecter” style pop icon. Chizmar struggles with his involvement in the storyline – and his “guilty by association” moniker that social media trolls have bestowed upon him but – he’s dealing with the accusations and the attention when suddenly, the killings and sightings begin again.
Not just that but – they seem targeted specifically toward him and his family. We follow Chizmar through a series of increasingly disturbing and harrowing encounters that challenge him not just as a writer, and chronicler of the situation at hand but also as a flawed human who must live with the consequences of his choices.
As the burlap sack-masked killer starts picking off residents one by one, the media descends on the town, and the speculation, unfounded accusations, and outright lies begin to circulate. The public, hungry for the facts – even if they have to make them up – becomes ravenous in their quest for information, and neighbors, acquaintances, and maybe even family get cast in a suspicious light.
As the freaky encounters escalate, and the police become more and more confused – Chizmar, aided by his family and friends begins to piece together the terrifying truth of who is in fact – becoming the boogeyman.
Expertly weaving first-hand accounts with recollections, armchair detective work, and good old intuition Chizmar works hand in hand with police – taking the liberty to branch out on his own from time to time much to the chagrin of the lead investigators working the case. When push comes to shove though – he ends up having to meet one-on-one with Joshua Gallagher – currently in prison over the events that transpired in the first book.
A cat-and-mouse game ensues with Gallagher dropping cryptic hints as to who is copycatting his reign of terror.
Always edgy and taking a left when you’re sure it’s gonna go right – BECOMING THE BOOGEYMAN is a masterclass in misdirection and suspense made all the more believable by Chizmar’s ability to lead you into this fictional story centered by his actual family and friends. You feel his self-doubt, his panic, and his strength as he fights not just to find the truth behind the killings but to pull the mask off the boogeyman.
BECOMING THE BOOGEYMAN is a large novel coming in at 405 pages not including the Author’s Note at the end but it is a quick read none the less and if at the end of it all – if the last two words don’t send a chill down your spine – your constitution is much stronger than mine.
The novel will be released on Oct. 10th – I would make sure to make it one of your Halloween season reads.
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