Dead Reckoning by Paul Stansfield
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (64 pages)
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Astilbe
This time, the zombies aren’t the bad guys.
Kurt Minnifield is a fledgling actor playing a zombie in a low budget horror movie. The director and crew decide to move their shooting to lovely and isolated Watkins State Park…only they don’t get proper permission.
Victor Newsome is a thirteen year old trying to both shed his nerdy image and learn outdoor skills at a special survival camp. After teaching the boys how to make shelter and kill their own food, the counselors decide to take a day trip to the neighboring state park–Watkins.
A series of ethical lapses, poor decisions, and bad luck lead to a colossal misunderstanding. Violence erupts as both sides fight desperately against a dangerous set of foes. Who will be more savage–the literal “monsters,” or the boys equipped with deadly weapons, and the knowledge of how to use them?
Imagine that you’re taking a leisurely hike through the woods on a sunny afternoon. Suddenly you hear a strange noise in the bushes. How would you react?
Some misunderstandings lead to far worse consequences than hurt feelings. Dead Reckoning is a perfect storm of miscommunications, over-reactions and multiple characters failing to take the time to figure out what’s actually going on.
What really made this plot come together was how seamlessly Mr. Stansfield alternates between first-person perspectives, switching between the two sides at pivotal scenes makes it incredibly easy for readers to empathize with Kurt and Victor and to understand how such a serious misunderstanding could occur so quickly. Under the influence of a less talented writer this story could have easily come across as overly dramatic instead of chilling. Luckily Mr. Stansfield tackled the subject matter with the perfect combination of horror and a dash of humor.
My expectations of the conclusion changed several times throughout the course of the plot. Most of the time I’m able to figure out how a story will end early on but this one was full of surprises. Looking back on the first few chapters I’ve now realized that the actions of certain characters were so subtly foreshadowed that many readers won’t realize the significance of those clues until the climax. Piecing them together is highly satisfying, though, and will make your second trip through the the story even more enjoyable.
Dead Reckoning is a must-read for everyone who has been startled by an unfamiliar noise or wondered how he or she would respond to a crisis. This is one of the best mysteries I’ve read so far in 2012 and I highly recommend it.