Harry Shannon’s Behold the Child is a story wrapped in enough intrigue to keep the reader guessing and balances that out with enough action to keep the plot moving forward at a tight pace. Originally part of a Cemetery Dance anthology, it follows the story of troubled Detective Sam Kenzie as he obsessively pursues a serial killer of children.
This novella is an example of brevity at its best. Though short in lenght, it packs in a complex plot with dynamic shifts in setting and a lead character that is worthy of any full length novel. The author spent much of his early career working in Hollywood and it’s evident in Behold the Child (as well as his other novels) that film has a huge influence on his work. There’s no padding. This is a lean story driven by action, dialogue, and visuals. Despite taking place over an extended period of time, it never drags or dawdles.
The lead character is at times infuriating, admirable, heroic, and damaged; he’s simultaneously someone to root for and someone you want to fix. The author gives us just enough pain in the backstory for the character’s damage to be real, but not too much so as it’s overwhelming. His journey throughout the novella is one that we have to take with him because we believe in him.
Another major highlight was the ending. Without giving anything away for those who haven’t read it yet, the ending is one of those icing-on-the-cake endings that most writers worth their salt should strive for. The icing here is sure to be a sweet treat for horror fans. It’s VERY satisfying and ties the story up perfectly.
If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and download it for Kindle. It’s a winner!