"To Evil Comes a Daughter" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Written by Allen Caraway
2012, 252 pages, Fiction
Released on October 18th, 2012
Journalist Sam Munro has a pretty sweet gig. Reporter for the London based "Dream Car" magazine, part of Munro's job is to test drive cars and traverse the world interviewing car collectors. It is the latter that brought him to Montana, USA, to talk with Doug Bamber about his mint 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Seems like a run of the mill piece for Munro, until he arrives at a haunted hotel, with a ghost that seems to be following him, and gets mixed up in a years-old investigation of a missing girl that, as fate would have it, Munro is directly linked to. Would you believe all of those things are related? What should have been a routine interview has quickly turned into police investigations, attempted homicides, and angry ghosts. Welcome to 'Merica.
I'm a fan of mysteries and thrillers; so much so that I prefer reading that genre over horror (but only slightly). So whenever I get a chance to read a novel that mashes the two together, I jump on it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In the case of To Evil Comes a Daughter, it's most definitely the former, but while author Allen Caraway has the mystery part locked down, the book could certainly use a lot more of the paranormal aspect if it's going to be pimped as such.
In his review for Joe McKinney's Inheritance, Gabino said, "One thing that usually makes horror/crime novels a bit weak is the fact that authors pussyfoot around and never fully engage with the two genres at once," and that couldn't be more applicable here. Touted as a paranormal murder-mystery, To Evil Comes a Daughter is far more murder-mystery than paranormal, with the latter only used as to further the story when needed. Hell, the ghostly happenings all but disappear for a good portion of the book once the investigation really takes off. That's not to say the novel isn't good, nor does it negatively affect the enjoyment of To Evil Comes a Daughter. Quite the contrary. The few times the haunting aspect is used, it is effectively creepy. Admittedly, author Allen Caraway uses it as a bit of a crutch by pushing Munro in the right direction when needed, and pretty much as an entire exposition piece at the end of the novel, but this is forgivable because not only is this Caraway's first novel, it's good.
To Evil Comes a Daughter is missing the hauntings (unless you count the ghosts of Munro's past coming back to him), but it more than delivers on the suspense. The investigation takes place on both sides of the pond, as Munro delves into the missing woman's past and what might have led to her disappearance. (I'm deliberately being vague on who this person his as it would take away from the reveal in the book.) Caraway does a great job on presenting believable, likeable characters in realistic circumstances without falling into the trap of making anyone too clichéd. The bond Munro forms with Bamber is a bit quick, but you have no problem buying into it due to the circumstances that are thrust upon them.
While To Evil Comes a Daughter doesn't have nearly amount of horror I was hoping for, it's clear that Caraway is capable of bringing it from the small amount found within its pages. There is also no disputing that he can write a mean mystery. Even better, this is his first book, so I can only imagine that he will get better. I would eagerly read more of Munro's adventures, and if Caraway could solidify the marriage between horror and mystery, all the better.