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CBR4 #40: Coffin County by Gary Braunbeck

The town of Cedar Hill is one of those places. It's a place like Derry, Maine or Bon Temps, Louisiana or Sunnydale, California; it's a place where things are not quite right, nor have they ever been. The town--since its founding--seems to draw tragedy and death like a magnet. From a massacre of the early settlers right up until the explosion and fire at the coffin factory that destroyed an entire neighborhood a few years ago, the people of Cedar Hill have become accustomed to bloody surprises.

Police detective Ben Littlejohn finds himself chasing another one of Cedar Hill's deadly mysteries when he's called to the scene of a mass murder in a diner. The murderer has left his fingerprints all over the scene, and Ben hopes it will be an open-and-shut case. Of course, that's not how it works out. The fingerprints are but the first of many indications that things have gone wildly askew. Soon, Ben is confronted by inexplicable new tombstones appearing in the cemetery, and a video tape that shows something that simply cannot be.

The book also has two shorter stories included--one is about an out-of-this-world showdown that occurs at a rural bar one night, and the other involves the life of some of Cedar Hill's factory workers.

All three tales are great--spooky and well-written. The first is a little longer than it really needed to be--I think it should have been the same length as the other two--but still absolutely readable. I like the way the stories' locations and characters tie in to one another, as well as to Braunbeck's other works (including Keepers and Mr. Hands). I like his work, and plan to read more of his Cedar Hill stories.


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