A God In The Shed by J F Dubeau
Pub Inkshares, Pbk £12.32
Reviewed by HT Scott
The year is 1873 and most of North America lays untouched by man. Four boys Nathan Johnathan and the Richards twins are out for a trek in the woods. When the boys happen upon a cave they are drawn to it. As Nathan, the leader approaches the cave it becomes apparent that something lives within it, but its eyes are to close together to be a bear. Alarmed by what they see Johnathan advises retreat. Then a voice issue from the cave, begging them to stay. An ethereal being images from the cave and communicates with them telepathically. What the boys discover that day will be an inherited responsibility that their ancestors will unknowingly have to bear.
Fast forward to the present and the now established town of Saint-Ferdinand. The residents have spent the past twenty years living with the threat of a serial killer and unsolved murders. Inspector Stephen Crowley is tasked with the job of keeping his town safe, he is hardworking, stubborn and a single parent to Daniel. Called to the property of town eccentric Sam Finnegan Crowley finds something that no one expected of old Sam. Stuffed into multiple fridges it seems as if the Saint Ferdinand killer has been found. All of the bodies that have been found have had their throats slit and the eyeballs are missing. Further down the property Crowley and Cheif medical inspector Randy find the eyes impaled on sticks and all facing the entrance to a cave. If that wasn’t bad enough they then find the body of Audrey Bergeron, the sweet and much loved eight-year-old daughter of a respected family. Finnegan swears he didn’t kill her, that he found her but no one believes him with the evidence they’ve got.
Venus is a gifted student whose family moved to Saint Ferdinand several years ago to set up a tea shop. Her free-thinking, hippy parents don’t set rules preferring instead to treat her as a friend rather than their child. As a result, many of her peers have rejected her out of jealousy. Her only friends are Penny and Abraham. When news of Audrey’s death and the carnage found at Finnegan’s place hits the town the three friends are shocked. They knew Audrey well and Venus would often babysit her.
On the day of Audrey’s funeral, Venus is undecided as to whether she should go. Deciding to attend but stay at a distance she watches from behind a tree as the girls’ parents and friends leave stuffed animals on her grave. That is except for Randy, Venus’ uncle. Randy takes a brown bear with a red hat from the grave and walks away. Leaving Venus to question why.
Later that night Randy returns and digs up Audrey’s grave. He hammers four cast-iron nails into the infant’s body, two in her feet and two through her eyes. Then he lays the bear in the coffin before taking her necklace as proof of what he’s done for her father.
Venus is having a hard time with her parents’ lack of parenting and decides to move into the shed. But she disturbs a bird nesting there and instead decides to set up a camera to film the nest.
Meanwhile, another murder happens, this time it really hits home. Gabrielle, Penny’s mum is found disembowelled in the woods. How can that be with Sam Finnegan behind bars? Inspector Crowley thinks he had an accomplice and needs to capture them. Crowley goes to the Sandmen, the town’s secret counsel. They know what’s going on and they know what’s doing it. Unbeknownst to Venus, she has met the one who murdered her friends’ mother.
What I really liked about this book was the way Dubeau introduced each character, giving each one an introduction so that you could immediately see their importance. Each chapter is named after the character it’s about, which helped with the pacing and timing of the action. Debeau’s talent for description and dialogue make it really easy for you to picture everything and get immersed in the story. In particular, the way each character’s story flows through another until they all connect is done seamlessly. Venus is the main protagonist but the story doesn’t hinge on her, it’s more crafted around her. I really like Dubeau’s style of writing, he is able to take his reader right into the story. I myself couldn’t put it down. The only thing I didn’t like is the end and that’s because I have to wait for the sequel Song of The Sandman, which isn’t out yet.