Short Take: “The Book Club,” Alan Baxter

Rating: 5 out of 5

Often when I’m stressed or tired I just want a fun horror book (preferably a novella I can read as a break) to take my mind off of everything. So far Alan Baxter’s books have really hit that niche for me, much like William Meikle’s. The Book Club is the fifth of Baxter’s works that I’ve read, and every single one has rated a 5/5.

Jason Wilkes is waiting for his wife Kate to come home from her monthly book club. When she doesn’t show up, he calls the only member of the group he has a phone number for, but her friend Dave says she left the club as normal. He calls the police and Sergeant Cooke and Office Dale show up. Obviously the spouse is always going to be the first suspect, and Cooke and Dale seem to enjoy playing bad cop/good cop. Jason refuses to sit at home waiting for his wife to call, so he starts poking into things on his own. It turns out Dave’s phone was a burner phone that no longer is in service, and there’s CCTV footage of someone who isn’t Kate driving her car. As Jason goes further and further out on a limb to find out what happened to Kate, he starts to come face-to-face with some unbelievable–and terrifying–truths.

I enjoyed the characters in here. Jason feels very real in his grief and anger, as do the members of his and Kate’s families that we meet. In particular I like the members of the “book club,” because they’re almost certainly guaranteed to not be what you’re expecting! Cooke and Dale take some standard cop traits and twist them a bit, which I also like.

I can’t get into much without giving certain things away, so that’s why this is a short take instead of a full review. This is a grim combination of horror and a bizarre kind of personal optimism.

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