Cover Image: Point of Contact

Point of Contact

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A series of horrifying, unexplainable deaths. A race against time to stop an all-powerful madman. And the only person who can stop him is battling his own demons.

Newcastle, England. People are bursting into flames without warning or explanation. When the local police seek an expert in spontaneous human combustion, there is only one man to call: ex-firefighter Ian Fenwick, a man with a past as dark as his future.

Fenwick finds himself thrust into his most deadly investigation yet, pitching him against a crazed killer and mysterious entities known only as The Visitors.

Can Fenwick stop them before they make the whole world burn?
Gripping read
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Oooh! This took me back.

It's 1986, Sunday afternoon, and I'm in my bedroom, gripped by one of those paperbacks with lurid cover illustrations of rats or slugs or bloody daggers, with the authors' name rendered in raised gold lettering. Downstairs, the plinky-plonky theme tune of Antiques Roadshow heralds the start of the Sunday evening ennui, but it matters not: I'm transported to a world of ravening crows or possessed dolls or masked serial killers. Def Leppard may or may not be playing in the background, competing with the Old Persons Telly wafting up the stairs (because, in their forties, my parents were absolutely ANCIENT. Obviously).

Point of Contact is much better than most of those screechily silly offerings (with the notable exception of Stephen King, master storyteller that he remains). But there is a direct lineage; I suspect Ayres' Sunday afternoons had much in common with my own. It's a tale of spontaneously combusting Geordies (there's an extra layer of enjoyment if, like me, you're a local) and the detective charged with getting to the bottom of it all. It's gripping, gory, compulsive and brilliantly written - definitely more akin to Mr King than some of his more cut-price counterparts. I loved every second of it.

I'm off to explore Richard Ayre's back catalogue - and stick some Def Leppard into the tape deck while I'm at it...

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Point of Contact by Richard Ayre is a highly recommended procedural/horror novel.

Ian Fenwick is an ex-fire fighter and fire investigator who is called by Laura Goddard, a detective at the police department in Newcastle, England, to help them with an unusual investigation. There has been a death that defies explanation and appears to be spontaneous human combustion (SHC). Fenwick is asked for his assistance because he has some personal experience with SHC. As other cases occur, what Goddard and Fenwick don't know is that there is a nefarious group behind the SHC cases. A group gathered by a mysterious man known as William is behind the deaths. He listens to otherworldly beings he calls the Visitors and has gathered people who have special abilities to help him eliminate the human race so the Visitors can retake the world.

The narrative follows the current investigation, a teenage girl who escaped from William and is trying to get to Fenwick to warn him about William's plans, and mysterious chapters from William's point-of-view. This helps increase suspense as the novel picks up speed. Point of Contact starts out resembling a police procedural but as the investigation unfolds the novel increasingly becomes a horror novel, as would be expected in most novels where SHC is a major plot point.

Fenwick is a fully realized, sympathetic character and you will be like him and support his efforts. Goddard is his romantic interest, although she is a great character in her own right. The mysterious William and the group of various minions and thugs who follow him are all odious characters. The plot moves quickly and the chapters will speed by as you race to see what will happen next.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Burning Chair Limited via Netgalley.
The review will be published on Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and Amazon.
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Spontaneous combustion is a pretty incendiary plot driver. DuhDum Dum Dunz.. But seriously, it’s a really freaky thing. There isn’t much exact science on it and what there is, Ian Fenwick knows. Because of his years as a firefighter earlier in life, because of his subsequent years operating a fire safety company and, primarily, because that was the way his wife died and thus it became a subject Ian has studied and researched extensively over the years.
  So when there’s a death that appears to be SHC, Ian gets asked to consult the police. Except that the details are all wrong. And soon the body count increases and all Ian, his newly found love interest pretty blonde, green eyed detective and the rest of the cops can do is try to figure out what’s going on.
    Turns out it’s infinitely more sinister than a random freak occurrence. Turns out it’s all to do with a master conspiracy plan of global domination for and by the mysterious beings referred to as The Visitors. 
      And so this supernatural tinged procedural must reckon with forces they were never trained or prepared to taken on, forces most refuse to even believe in. 
     There’s plenty of suspense and mystery and even a surprise evildoer reveal for thriller fans and also loads of freakiness for supernatural fiction fans, not to mention oodles of action and puddles of gore for both.
     The romance is laid on kinda heavily, but it’s just that kind of a book. It wants to give you a complicated and beaten up by life yet thoroughly likeable protagonist and it wants to give him something to live for…a sexy younger lady, to be specific.
      But this isn’t to say the entire production is cheesy or trite. Au contraire, it’s actually quite well done. For an indie from an author I’ve never heard of, especially. It’s well written, well edited, well paced, exciting and, above all, fun, just pure fun to read. I’d dare say…fiery. And that’s it for me and puns with this one. Apologies to all (those weirdos who don't appreciate a fun pun).
       Wait, wait, wait, one more...a blazing scorcher to get fired up about. Right? Right? Ok, really done now.
      But yeah, a very entertaining read this was. I liked it. Recommended to genre fans. Thanks Netgalley.
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