A debut horror novel about a small town with an evil sheriff.

Welcome to the Village of Wrong, a place with a most unwelcoming lawman. Sheriff Harrigut, known as “Stargut” to most, is a man with a face that “resembled Jackie Gleason, but it wore no smile and it was carried by no comic.” He’s not the type of figure you want to see pulling you over for a traffic violation, particularly if you had the misfortune of hitting an animal. It turns out that killing a wild creature, or “friend of the wood,” is a serious offense in Wrong, whether it’s intentional or not. As readers learn early on, the penalty for this crime is no less than death—a violent, fiery one behind Richie’s Tavern. It’s a fact that a woman known as “Lovey” knows all too well. Ten years ago, after Lovey’s husband, Bill, hit a deer with his car, he made the unwise decision to notify Stargut, which cost Bill his life. Now, Lovey has a mysterious neighbor in Wrong named Tom—a friendly “preacher of sorts” with an unusual past. They soon team up to tackle their common foe: Stargut himself. Author Jerry paints the sheriff as a frightening authority figure, indeed, who manages to get even more sinister as the novel progresses—although he’s scariest when readers first meet him. The problem with the narrative is that too much information is given away early on. Instead of leaving a sense of mystery about one early murder, for example, the author reveals all the details about it immediately. When it comes time for more deaths as the story goes on, there’s not much that’s new for readers to discover. There are other revelations involving supernatural phenomena, but none are quite as memorable as the earliest ones.

A thriller with an intriguing premise that misses opportunities for even greater terror.

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