Once in a while I’ll start a review with some poetic prose plucked from the pages to give the reader an idea of the skills the writer may possess. The Boulevard Monster has none of that. Instead, it’s a straightforward, entertaining story with a thrilling Koontz-ish vibe…and the best book I’ve read so far this year. There’s good reason it was nominated for a Stoker award. Hepler’s no-filler prose is designed to simply tell a story with no literary glitter, which makes perfect sense considering the protagonist.
This is a first-person account of a man who’s telling his side of a story where accusations have been made against him regarding a series of disappearances—disappearances of local prostitutes, to be exact. The character is no hero. He’s an everyday joe who owns a truck, drinks beer to wind down, works construction, and sports a lucky baseball cap. So when he’s put into a position of body disposal—a mandatory task given him if he wants to keep his family intact—courtesy of our antagonist, the predicament feels real. Hepler takes an otherwise fantastical scenario and gives us legitimate reason, where it could have easily gone done a path of predictability, where dead horses lie beaten given the antagonist’s identity.
But Hepler is smarter than that and so wrote a debut novel that he’d like to read. That we’d all like to read, rather than the tiresome drivel we’re given on a subject we’re tired of hearing about. That dead horse.
I’ve already said too much, and there’s so much more I want to say about the subgenre this book could fall under yet doesn’t because of the intelligent way it avoids certain tropes, and about Hepler’s ability to keep the reader turning the pages, wondering if what we think is going on is really going on. Yes, I’m being vague, and I really do want to say more. But I can’t, because I believe in spoiler-free reviews. Read the book. You’ll see.