Author: C. Dennis Moore
I can take quite a lot when it comes to reading horror. Not watching it, mind you, only reading it. I’m really something of an aficionado of what I affectionately call The Bloody Knife – you know the books, the ones with murder, mayhem, some supernatural bits and surprisingly often a bloody knife on the cover. But if you want to scare me, write about a haunting. I tend to read late at night, which, let’s face it, is prime ghost time. If you don’t like books that ooze creeping terror disrupting your sleep, I would suggest that you read The Flip during daylight hours only.
The Flip is a pretty classic haunted house story. We have four guys who have known each other for years and are in various ways dissatisfied with their current situations. One of them is out of a job and gets the idea that if they pool their money they can buy a house, remodel it and sell it for a profit. He watches a lot of HGTV. The others, all wanting some sort of change in their lives, agree and this merry band of not particularly functional dudes goes into business.
Unfortunately for them, this house has a little bit of a past. We know a few details, but not many. They have rushed into this venture so quickly that they know nothing. It won’t stay that way. Their little fixer upper in Angel Hill, Missouri, is going to show them the price you pay for watching too much TV.
First of all, this is the fourth novel by author C. Dennis Moore to take place in Angel Hill. It isn’t the very best place in the world, having more than its fair share of out of the ordinary phenomena. Not the good kind. The residents seem to be more than a little blind to the shadowy blackness that surrounds them, and if these guys are any indication, don’t quite see how much their lives suck.
We have four main characters. All are in their late 30s, all single. Brian lived with his parents before their recent deaths. Mike has been laid off from his management position at the Burger King where the four met in their early years (he is the HGTV watcher). Keith used to have a good job but lost it some time ago and is living pretty well off his severance and working his small farm while he looks for something else. Steven works in the meat locker at Walmart. That situation speaks for itself. Oh, he also lives with his parents.
So you can see why starting a business would look mighty attractive. When the Bad Things begin, they seem tailor made to each individual – preying on specific insecurities, fears or fantasies. All I know is that I’m never going to Angel Hill on vacation.
First the good stuff. This is a scary book. This house has some nasty tricks up its sleeves and the guys react in reasonably understandable ways. Unlike some horror stories that have people doing stupid things that you simply can’t fathom, even under extraordinary circumstances, Moore has his characters thinking like real people. Not always rational, but understandable within the context given. The plotting is tight, the pacing is good, and my favorite – it isn’t filled with typos and grammatical errors.
My issues with The Flip are more reader-centric than they are criticisms of the book itself. First, I think it’s more of a “guy book”. The characters (obviously all men) meticulously choose the music they play depending on mood – I didn’t recognize most of the band names, and frankly I don’t care what Brian listens to on his way to work to clear his fuzzy brain. They also have the tendency to be vulgar toward and about women (Keith in particular, but they all laugh along with him). This underscores that they’re pretty much losers, and helps define them as characters, but it also makes me sort of want the house to kill them, so that isn’t such a good thing. I suspect that male readers will mostly have far fewer complaints about either of those things. I also had a small issue with the ending. Obviously I’m not going to tell you anything about it, but it’s definitely more a personal preference than anything else. Most people – male and female – who read horror are not going to be bothered or fazed.
Overall, The Flip does exactly what horror should do – it scared me silly. And I really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely read more of Moore’s books set in Angel Hill – it’s such a creepy, malicious little place, how can I not? 3 ½ stars out of 5 from this reader, with the acknowledgement that male readers are unlikely to share my quibbles.
— S. Millinocket