Title: Shadows Fall
Author Name: J.K. Hogan
Publication Date: June 10, 2015
For him, the whole world is a graveyard…
A gift—or curse—gives Titus McGinty the unwanted ability to talk to ghosts. When he starts seeing the same few apparitions repeatedly, appearing with similar gruesome injuries, he begins to wonder what they want from him.
Detective Charlie Hale has a serial killer on his hands. On the loose for weeks, the Queen City Slayer has left the police nothing to go on, no forensic evidence other than what he wants found. The city is running out of time.
The crisis brings Titus and Charlie together—Titus stumbles upon a body and finds himself a suspect. Their budding romance is tested as they are sucked into a web of underground laboratories, restive spirits, and religious fanaticism. They’ll have to work together to find the identity of the killer before he takes his next victim…Titus.
I really enjoyed this story. It was a pleasant surprise, because I find that I typically shy away from reading supernatural stories. However, I loved this one.
Titus is such a gentle soul. His character is the caretaker of his friends, the fierce protector of his business and the one who helps those who cannot speak, be heard. I also really loved his grandma. I thought she added to the depth of Titus in a way that had she not been in the story – we would have lost a lot of his background.
I also really liked Charlie. Superhero from the very beginning, his fierce protectiveness, loyalty and love/compassion that he shows Titus is something to be admired throughout the story.
The mystery part was awesome. Despite the fact that I figured out the ending before it’s actual reveal, I was still happy when it finally came to light. I love a good story with mystery and a “who did it” concept and this story did not disappoint.
I would definitely read more of Hogan in the future.
I really enjoyed this police procedural with a supernatural twist. The seemingly innocuous owner of a coffee shop, Titus’ gypsy heritage has given him the ability to see dead people. As Titus starts to fall for Charlie, a handsome cop and regular patron, he is able to use his supernatural abilities to aid Charlie’s hunt for a serial killer.
This story has all the quirky Southern charm of the early Charlaine Harris stories, and Titus has a good deal in common with Harris’ Harper Connolly. Hogan’s take on Southern Gothic is modern, but her characters are colourful and her murders are grizzly.
Both Titus and Charlie’s angst about being gay didn’t feel as modern as the rest of the story. I did like the way Hogan’s characters reacted as Charlie outed himself, and I enjoyed the way Titus’ grandmother developed over the course of the book. The relationship between Titus and Charlie was sweet – and pretty hot at times!
Hogan has set up a new series beautifully – I think Charlie and Titus will make a great team as they investigate more murders and I’d love to see more books in the series.
I always hated walking home alone at night on the deserted city streets. But I couldn’t ask my employees to do something I was scared to do myself, so I’d taken the late shift. In the dark, the wandering dead became nothing but sliding shadows and hissing whispers. The phrase ‘jumping at shadows’ is apt, because there were things in the shadows.
Those things slithered around me, feeling much more insidious in the murky stillness of the nighttime city. Hands in my pockets, I gripped my four inch pocket knife that I always carried. Fat lot of good it would do me against mule, but there was a killer on the loose after all.
It was ill-advised, but I still blasted my music inside my headphones. I didn’t want to hear what the spirits had to say in gloam. I mostly kept my eyes glued to the sidewalk in front of me—don’t stand out, don’t make eye contact, make yourself invisible—but I cast glances all around my periphery to keep aware of my surroundings.
A tall, skinny man approached, heading toward me on the opposite side of the sidewalk. He wore dark jeans and a black hoodie with the hood pulled up, casting his face in shadow. I found that odd, as it was one of those warm, humid nights the Southern springtime was famous for. His dark eyes glittered at me from the empty void where his face should be, obviously a trick of the poor lighting.
As he passed me, he clipped my shoulder, throwing me off balance. I wanted to turn around and yell, but self-preservation intervened. I could probably take him in hand-to-hand, but he could be packing for all I knew. I put my head down and kept walking.
I yelped when a spirit appeared in front of me—unlike what movies and television showed, they didn’t usually just pop up. He was a young man, probably about my age, with pale skin, black hair, and eyes so blue they seemed otherworldly… and he was gorgeous. I blinked, hoping he’d disappear. No such luck.
He turned his head towards the building beside us that was being renovated, the entrance to which was blocked off with caution tape. Stretching out his left arm, he pointed to it, and I could see bone-deep gouges in his wrist and forearm. He glanced at me again. Look.
“Not tonight, okay?” I mumbled, trying to step around him. In the blink of an eye, he disappeared and rematerialized right in front of me. See!
“No,” I said, getting angry. I walked straight through him. Usually when I passed through a spirit, I just felt a slick, oily cold sliding through my body—but this burned like a vat of acid had been dumped over me. I screamed and fell to my knees.
He appeared in front of me again. As I looked up at him, still reeling from the pain, it occurred to me how new he must be. When a mulo first left its body, it still maintained some measure of its humanity. It was able to take and maintain a corporeal form more easily than the older spirits, and the ability faded with each day since its passing.
He pointed again and this time, his eyes took on a pleading quality. I could practically feel his anguish.
Struggling to my feet, I brushed myself off and sighed. “Fine, I’ll look. But then you need to leave me the hell alone. I ducked under the caution tape strung across the doorless entry of the run-down building. It was almost pitch black inside, but I got a vague sense of sawhorses and scaffolds. Tip-toeing for some inconceivable reason, I made my way into some kind of vestibule or foyer. I didn’t notice anything that this mulo would be so desperate for me to see, but I couldn’t really see much at all.
My foot hit something solid and I was afraid to go any further into the dark. Who knew what kind of hazards were strewn about the construction site. I dug out my iPhone and swiped it to turn on the flashlight app. A bright light shone out of the camera flash and illuminated the dusty room in front of me—and the man lying all too still on the floor.
I screamed for the second time in five minutes, stumbled back against a plastic-draped scaffolding and dropped my phone. I assumed it landed screen up, because the room was suddenly plunged back into darkness. With my skin crawling, I felt around on the floor for the hard case. Instead, I grabbed a cold leg.
“Holy God!” I shouted, scrambling backwards and sideways until my back hit a wall. My pulse pounded and my head was spinning with the urge to pass the fuck out, either from fright or hyperventilation. My muscles were on lockdown, frozen into that gray area between fight-or-flight, but I knew I had to find my phone so I could get the hell out of there.
And the body… I’d have to call someone. I poked around with the toe of my shoe, carefully avoiding the area of blackness where I thought the body was. Finally I felt the phone. I dragged it across the floor with my foot until I was able to pick it up. Everything was illuminated once again. “Oh thank God,” I said.
But once there was light, I could see him again. His head was turned to face away from me, but I knew that it was the guy from outside. Obviously he’d wanted me to find his body. It was laid out like a sacrifice, arms stretched out to reveal the deep cuts on his arms. I shivered. My brain was finally catching up to the situation, and I realized it was entirely possible that the killer could still be here.
I quickly got to my feet and lurched toward the dim light pooling at the doorway. As soon as I was out of there, I pressed my back up against the cool façade of the building and panted to catch my breath. I see the dead all the time, but I’d never actually seen a dead body before. I wasn’t sure what to do; the only thing I could think was call Charlie.
With shaking hands, I pulled up his number on my phone—I may have entered it from the business card he gave me after chasing Jay out of the shop. I pressed send and he picked up on the first ring.
“Titus.” My voice was shaking and I was embarrassingly close to tears. “I need help.”
“Tell me where you are and I’ll be right there.”
I rattled off my general location, already soothed by the sound of his voice, the confidence in it. “Please hurry,” I said.
“Stay put, I’m on my way.”
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
Oh, this will be fun. Let’s see, I do most of my writing on the couch in our tv/billiard/greatroom with my trusty laptop. I’m usually surrounded by or buried under toys, with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse playing in the background. Yep, I’m a stay-at-home-mom toddler boy. When I’m really in the middle of something, I pretty much have to drag the ole laptop from room to room so that I can watch his antics and make the appropriate encouraging noises. I have a nice setup in my bedroom, however usually if I try and work up there, the temptation to rest is just too great.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
Definitely Justice from I Survived Seattle, my first m/m book and fourth in my backlist. I modelled Justice’s multitude of issues including generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and panic disorder after my own struggles with the same illnesses. He’s pretty much me, except for the cute gay guy part.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I’ve worked in a lot of different industries so I’ve satisfied my curiosity in a lot of different areas. In addition to being an author, I’m also a freelance graphic designer and a graphic artist (I’m currently drawing an m/m webcomic and designing covers) so I’d probably put more energy into that side of things.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
I honestly can’t think of a thing. There’s nothing I’ve learned along the way that would keep me from wanting to do this. I’d still be writing rather I published or not, but it’s more fun this way.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
Not really. I don’t put anything out that I haven’t agonized over every detail of. The only thing I might do is just fine tune the timelines on some of them.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
There’s no set process. It could be a lyric in a song, some guy walking down the street, a picture I see or take myself that might spark the beginnings of a story. Usually once I have the spark, I don’t need much else to get the story rolling.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I’ve got the third book in my contemporary Coming About series, Unbreak Broken, coming out in September. My current WIP is a dark psychodrama about two guys that meet in a mental health facility (I know! How will I make that work?) and after that I’ll start on the sequel to Shadows Fall. After that, I have a contemporary cowboy/horseman story in my head that I’d like to do, in honor of a very special horse who was a big part of my life and recently passed away.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I live in North Carolina. I try to use my writing to go places I don’t get to visit often. I find it a challenge to do the necessary research to set a story in a place that’s not my hometown. That said, Shadows Fall is set in Charlotte, NC. It was a new experience because I spent many hours trekking the city with my son, looking for interesting landmarks and ideas for the story. I actually loved writing about Charlotte because it felt like home. I also had to approach the collective attitude towards LGBT issues. While the state is conservative majority, I travel in the liberal, welcoming circles so I get both sides of the coin. This affected how I approached each character’s backstory.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
Suspense/thriller or horror. I’m always going to love romance, and when I read a book without it, I always wish there was a little romance in there. However, when I need to step outside the genre, thrillers are my go-to. I’m not easy to scare, or thrill, if you will, so I love finding books that can do it.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Coffee and books. I’m a coffee addict and a book hoarder. Thank goodness for the age of the ebook or I’d be bankrupt.
J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?
J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and young son, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visitwww.jkhogan.com.