The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

25300888The Beast of Barcroft went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting, in fact, on reflection, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but whatever it was this surpassed it in many way.

We start the story finding out about the neighbour from hell, Madeleine Roux.  Well, that’s probably a bit of an extreme description but it’s certainly the way her neighbours feel about her.  Madeleine likes to feed the birds and critters.  Unfortunately, as you may know, if you place food outside it doesn’t just attract the soft and fluffy animals that you want – it attracts everything, including vermin, and Barcroft is swiftly becoming overrun. Pull up a pipe in your garden and it will likely be followed out by a slick wave of rats.

Ben McKelvie and his girlfriend have just bought a house in the area.  Little did they suspect that their neighbour would cause them such problems.  Anyway, a long story short, Ben becomes involved in the neighbourly battle to try and stop Madeleine encouraging yet more vermin onto the surrounding properties.  He also suffers a family loss and, having become a bit embittered and grumpy about life in general his girlfriend finally decides enough is enough and leaves.  She at least leaves him with the dog.  Well, about the dog – the problem with all sorts of critters being attracted to the area is that bigger predators follow in their wake and Ben’s dog becomes the victim of a most unlikely predator.

Now, the neighbours are up in arms, the local authority can do very little, the local police seem disinterested at most and Ben, in desperation, enlists the help of a curator from the National Zoo.

I’m not going to go into the plot at all, other than the above.

What we have here is a sneaky story that leads you off down one route, in a very nicely written and plotted way, only to find yourself taking a different fork in the road completely.  I found this fast paced and really quite intriguing not to mention down right creepy as the momentum builds.

The setting is the suburbs. Beyond the immaculate gardens is a strip of woodland with a river running through it – the Four Mile Run Trail.  It all sounds really quite lovely and if it wasn’t for whatever is lurking in the shadows in the woods it probably would be.  Something has come to Bancroft, something evil, something not easily banished, it knows your fears and is stalking in the shadows.

The characters.  Ben, is a little difficult to like at first.  He’s quite abrasive and angry but he does eventually endear himself to you.  Lindsay is quite a likeable character.  Hard working and dedicated to the things she enjoys.  As soon as she finds out about the predator in the neighbourhood she pretty much throws herself into the search putting herself at great risk.  Then we have Richard Severance, a cryptozoologist and his buddy Dr Alex Standing Cloud, who is an expert on Native American studies.  These two are a pair of show stealing characters – I really liked them – they didn’t have a major role but when they put in an appearance you certainly knew about it.

Overall I really enjoyed this.  I found it incredibly creepy although seasoned horror readers would probably find me a little lily livered and take this in their stride, and, it gave me a serious case of the heebee geebies.  I thought the writing was smooth and the author builds the tension really well.  And, let’s not forget the creepy house – it practically exudes menace.

I certainly hope more books are planned!

I received a copy courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

6 Responses to “The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart”

  1. jessicabookworm

    I’ve never heard of this; it sounds good though. I like a good case of the ‘heebie jeebies’ but like you I don’t like anything too gruesome or scary!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I liked this very much. I had an idea of what it was going to be about when I picked it up but was then proved wrong – I love it when that happens.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Leaving food out is never a good idea. Creepy things happen.

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I hadn’t even heard of this one! I’m going to have to read up on it, I’m always on the look out for good horror. Thanks for the review 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really liked it. I had pre determined notions before I started reading but it actually went down a very original route.
      Lynn 😀

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