[Full disclosure up front: I knew Thomas Fuller. I know Brad Strickland. And I have played the pompous, priggish, pig-headed Dr. Benedict Peterson in audio productions of `The Dancer in the Dark' more times than bears thinking about.]
I don't care for horror stories. Too often, they depend on characters acting like idiots and the mood is one of despair. Well, I don't care for vampire stories, either, but Tom Fuller's take on vampires - `The Brides of Dracula' - is a show I will happily listen to, all the way through, at any time.
Horror, fantasy, archaeological speculation or murder procedural, `The Dancer in the Dark' is just one of the rattling-best stories I've read in years. As the preliminary note says, this is a tale I am very familiar with, but reading through the draft Brad sent around for review, I found myself turning pages and thinking, `What next? What next? What next?' (Especially during the gingerly, fearful exploration of Cold Pine Plantation, late in the action.) I think anyone reading it for the first time can only be drawn in and along to a (literally) near-apocalyptic conclusion.
The characters are strongly drawn, memorable (even - especially - the unpleasant ones), none act like idiots (OK, Miriam Peterson is a bit of a squish but there's a good reason for it, and a tougher personality peeks through at the end), and all are appropriate to the time and place.
And there is a marvelous sense of time and place - one of Brad's particular strengths as a writer. Like all their collaborations, `Dancer' benefits from Thomas's soaring imagination and Brad's professionalism as a writer. The humor comes from both of them, I believe.
I got a Kindle for Christmas. (I am not an early adopter.) `The Dancer in the Dark' is the first book I bought for it. And I read it pretty much straight through.
Recommended. Oh, yes...