"Where Stars Won't Shine" Book Review
Written by Tony Jones
Published by Grindhouse Press
Written by Patrick Lacey
2019, 194 pages, Fiction
Released on 4th Jannuary, 2019
Patrick Lacey cleverly weaves several story strands into a pacey novel which wastes little time in hitting the ground running with the suicide of a true-crime writer, Charlie Williamson. The author dies on the same day his biography on the prolific serial killer, Tucker Ashton, is released, with the book later becoming a runaway hit. Tucker had been caught and punished for his crimes but later inexplicitly disappears from prison and is never heard of again. He is presumed dead, but this unexplained occurrence only adds to his mystique as a serial killer of infamous reputation.
Forget Bundy, Gacy and all the other high-profile serial killers, none bumped off the incredible number that Tucker Ashton tortured and despatched. The majority were in his home town of Marlowe, Massachusetts, where Ashton eventually returns to and is caught after his final killing spree. Much of the novel is set in Marlowe and this is an outstanding setting, a town which failed to come to term with the horrible events and which Tucker Ashton has a weird hold over. The supernatural element of Where Stars Won’t Shine is unsettling and unexplained as Tucker pulls otherworldly strings which drag the protagonists into his world.
Peppered with extracts from “Birth of a Monster”, which was written by Charlie Williamson, it features eye-catching flashbacks to the youth of Tucker Ashton and his discovery of the Dark Web as a way of showcasing murders he filmed for a growing audience. Although Ashton’s presence drifts in and out of his novel, he dominates proceedings and many of the main characters are puppets on his string heading to Marlowe for different reasons.
Where Stars Won’t Shine will have you thinking about the cult of celebrity which often surrounds real serial killers. One of the main characters, Zeke Evans, is obsessed with these murderers and makes a good living by running a website dedicated to them, and no surprises for guessing which bad-boy is his favourite. Parts of the story is also seen from Amy’s point of view, the girlfriend of Zeke, who has a very bad feeling about her partner’s obsession with Tucker Ashton.
Also thrown into the mix is Ivy Longwood, an English teacher who has weird visions which exasperate her long-suffering sister Mariah and have become more frequent after her partner Scott was murdered two years earlier by Tucker Ashton. He writes “I’ll be seeing you soon” in the blood of the dead man.
Finally, there is Ethan Roberts, who is suckered into a pill scam by his brother Andrew, desperate for cash to pay for cancer medication for daughter Lisa. He also finds himself heading for Marlowe even though the meeting place was supposed to be in a neighbouring town.
This is a very easy novel to read with characters all having distinct believable voices in a convincing horror novel. Tucker Ashton is a terrific bad-guy and works well as a Freddie Kreuger-style character, who does not appear in too many scenes until nearer the end. The town of the dead is both bleak and outstanding; Marlowe Hotel, in particular, is not somewhere I will be visiting anytime soon.
Where Stars Wont Shine has many nice touches, with the bending of reality being a convincing example, with the end result another very good novel from Grindhouse Press.
This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.