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Publisher's Summary

Reddit horror sensation Dathan Auerbach delivers a devilishly dark novel about a young boy who goes missing, and the brother who won't stop looking for him.

Eric disappeared when he was three years old. Ben looked away for only a second at the grocery store, but that was all it took. His brother was gone. Vanished right into the sticky air of the Florida Panhandle. They say you've got only a couple days to find a missing person. Forty-eight hours to conduct searches, knock on doors, and talk to witnesses. Two days to tear the world apart if there's any chance of putting yours back together. That's your window.

That window closed five years ago, leaving Ben's life in ruins. He still looks for his brother. Still searches while his stepmother sits and waits and whispers for Eric, refusing to leave the house that Ben's father can no longer afford. Now 20 and desperate for work, Ben takes a night stock job at the only place that will have him: the store that blinked Eric out of existence.

Ben can feel that there's something wrong there. With the people. With his boss. With the graffitied baler that shudders and moans and beckons. There's something wrong with the air itself. He knows he's in the right place now. That the store has much to tell him. So, he keeps searching. Keeps looking for his baby brother while missing the most important message of all. That he should have stopped looking.

©2018 Dathan Auerbach (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"If you think The Shining set in a grocery store, you're not far off.... Auerbach is magnificent with atmosphere, able to conjure dread from a huge array of normally nonthreatening places. This is a horror author to watch very, very closely." (Booklist)

"Dark and disturbing.... Readers will be reminded of the young Stephen King." (Publishers Weekly)

"This nasty little slice of Southern gothic...is a heady, puzzling, and oddly gripping exercise in depicting a small town as a macabre place filled with everyday horrors ranging from a child's stuffed animal to a gruesome industrial accident.... Auerbach [keeps] readers on the edges of their seats for the whole ride." (Kirkus Reviews)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tatiana
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • 08-08-18

Given long enough, time makes you aware of itself.

This is one of the most thoughtful and compelling novels of its genre I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. It did not, as I have seen some professional critics promise, remind me of early Stephen King. That isn't meant as an insult or a compliment, but just a fact. I love Stephen King, but Mr. Auerbach has a unique voice. The book is based in rural Florida in the panhandle, and uses the local accent for the dialogue. I'm originally from Florida and have heard that accent quite a lot on visits to that area, and the narrator does it perfectly.

The story is authentic and suspenseful, with a contemplative element to the prose. It's not just a sequence-of-events type of story. The author wants you to think about the characters, and about life. You feel it. There is a dark mood which is set incrementally by the paragraph, until it seeps into you, as a sort of resigned expectation of impending doom. Whether you have read the synopsis or not, by the end of the first few minutes you know something bad is going to happen. Sometimes throughout the book this mood eases up a bit, but after a while it is back, as strong as ever.

From the beginning, this story makes you think about the more regretful aspects of the human condition, and how we relate to others who are in pain or crisis. For instance, how often do we *really* look at the pictures of missing children on the grocery store bulletin board? How often do we allow ourselves to grasp, when we do see such a picture, the enormity of what it means to actually LOSE a child, and that the people who love that smiling little boy or girl on the board are probably living in constant torment? There are things that are easier to not be fully aware of, perhaps. This book makes you aware. If you have children, it will remind you to be vigilant about their safety.

I don't want to ruin it, so that's all I'll say. But this was a great listen.

35 of 36 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Dark, Creepy, and Engrossing...

I don't like to give summaries in reviews, but I'd rather the reader have a general idea of what he or she is in for.This book has the perfect setting for this story. Bad Man takes place in small northern Florida town sometime in the mid-90s (the author doesn't say but it's inferred by the information given). I found the plot to have a very ominous feel and the inner dialogue of the protagonist to be deeply affecting. The subject matter wasn't joyous in the least, however, I still did not want the book to end! I thought this was a very important and meaningful tale and the author was tying to tell us a great deal about life and about ourselves. I enjoyed the creepiness and the nostalgia of transporting back to the 1990s during a time when you didn't have a phone on you at all times and the internet wasn't really a "thing" although it did exist on some level. I recommend Bad Man to anyone needing a darky shadowy escape!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Bleak and dreary

So I got pulled into the idea of this with the beginning having the feel of early Stephen King, and I suppose it did- with the exception of wildly under developed characters(something King was never guilty of). This book was 16 hours of bleak hopelessness and stayed that way. There were so many characters that hinted at back stories that went untold, characters that may have actually been great had the history they were seemingly covering ever come to more fruition than “they saw something bad” or “they did something bad”. I think this is the first negative review I have ever posted on here but I stuck with it hoping the end would justify the journey and let me just say it did not, even a little.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Stop! Go no further!

If you're looking for something new go no further! This is a must read/listen! From the settings to the narrator I was completely engrossed in every inch and everyone minute of this story. I first came by the author when his book Penpal was released and I immediately became a fan. The realness in his stories really do bring out the realness in it all. I can not wait for whatever the future my hold for this author but I will surely be tuned in for every second of it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Ok

Book just didn't go where I thought it was leading me and disappointed by the ending. More questions unanswered. Written well and narrator was good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Disappointed

I expected a lot more from this book. It left me with many unanswered questions. Too much time was wasted on superfluous things that could have gone to other more important things like Ms. Beverly’s past and Blackwater.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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one of the most boring books you will ever read

this could have easily been condensed down to a novella or even a longer short story

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This story kept you wondering who took Eric

I enjoyed this story very much. it was well written and kept you engaged. Thanks

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    2 out of 5 stars
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seriously mundane silliness

I wish this book could figure out what it wanted to be. if a proficient editor took a crack at it, I would consider a re-read.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Long, almost TLDR

Ben and his family haven't been the same since Ben's half brother, Eric, went missing at the local supermarket. Years later, driven by the need to help the struggling family financially, Eric takes a job in that very supermarket. The impact of working in the same place Ben lost Eric years earlier causes strain for everyone. His stepmother who seemed to finally be getting a bit better is now often found in Eric's room, singing to her missing son. His father is distressed by this and urges Ben to find another job, but there's just not much available in their economically depressed town.

The Have You Seen Me? fliers Ben still puts up are being torn down. A symbol is scrawled on one and stuffed in his locker. Ben begins to wonder if the supermarket is haunted or if someone knows something about his brother's disappearance and is messing with him. Is his manager a 'bad man'. Is the local sheriff a 'bad man'? Or could it be one of his night-shift coworkers?

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I expected horror, but this reads more like a sad/depressing psychological mystery/thriller/mindslap of a story. I think it had potential (even though it still wouldn't have been my cup of tea). It could have been a much tighter, tenser novel, but it was ridiculously under-edited and chock full of unnecessary filler. I almost didn't finish it, but I was curious enough to continue and find out its ending.