Looking for hair-raising excitement with a bit of a mysterious twist? Hamelin Bird’s debut novel Double Vision (Piper House) packs a dark punch and may be the perfect next read for horror-thriller junkies. Bird balances relatable characters and the time-tested trope of the detective story with elements of the supernatural that will keep readers guessing.

Waking up smelling of stale sweat, cigarette smoke and last night’s booze is nothing new to former detective Michael Lunsmann. The occurrence has become so common that though he often can’t remember the particular details of the night before, he knows exactly how he ended up this way. The bottle. Sure, he’s tried to quit drinking before, but it’s never really stuck. Jack Daniels is to blame for the constant headaches and foggy memory, but what Mike can’t understand is how he’s ended up so out of touch with his life. 

He’s still in love with his ex-wife, but she’s moved on. Kathleen has been living with a new husband and even has a new daughter, Millie. And Doug, his 15-year-old son, doesn’t seem to want anything to do with him anymore. So with no family and his career basically in the toilet, what does he have to live for anyway? Maybe it doesn’t matter if he can’t remember anything when he wakes up in the morning.

BULLETS AND BLACKOUTS

But this time is different. In addition to the usual pains associated with a full night of binge drinking, there is also a bullet conspicuously lodged in his arm, and Mike doesn’t have the slightest recollection of how it landed there. There is, however, one memory of the previous night that he has managed to hang on to. A shadow of a memory, really; maybe even an otherworldly one. And it is validated when he sees the missing-persons poster at the station after his boss chews him out. Whatever had happened to Mike last night had to do with four teenage boys who had vanished without a trace.

Now, with no real jurisdiction and a tenuous grasp on reality clouded by booze, Mike is setting out to solve the case. Why? Maybe it’s because he’s the only one who has the key piece of evidence needed to find the boys (if only he could remember what it was) and he’s far too embarrassed to admit to all of last night’s escapades. Or maybe it’s to prove to Kathleen, Doug and even himself that he can do something worthwhile. Whatever the reason, Mike Lunsmann is on the trail, and there is no telling what type of demons he will have to face down along the way. 

Bird weaves a piecemeal tale in a slow-burning way that culminates in an action-packed ending. Readers get the chance to get up close and personal with multiple characters as the chapters vary focus among Mike, Doug, Kathleen and others — all in the mode of third-person narration. The strength of Bird’s writing lies in his ability to draw the reader into the headspace of his characters, so get ready for one foggy, emotional, adrenaline-pumping journey.

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Hamelin Bird is a devoted reader of speculative fiction and has researched his supernatural detective fiction through overnight ride-alongs with local police. He lives and works in North Carolina.