Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Kale Williams
Length: 8 hours, 20 minutes
After his career as a professor was sabotaged, psychic Simon Kincaide relocated to Myrtle Beach. He now owns a store where he offers physic readings and ghost tours. Simon has a few friends in the area, but his psychic abilities don’t go over well with most of the locals and that makes dating difficult. He hasn’t been interested in anyone either, until he sees cop Vic D’Amato at the coffee shop.
Vic also relocated to Myrtle Beach after he saw something supernatural on the job that he couldn’t explain and the department considered him a risk. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he knows what he saw. Currently, there is a serial killer targeting the area and when the investigation stalls, Vic finds himself asking Simon for help. The chemistry between the men is real, but with lack of evidence, Simon and Vic’s relationship becomes somewhat of a conflict of interest. When Simon begins to have visions of the murders, he knows the cops won’t believe him and he is determined to stop the killer. Even if it means he will be the next victim.
Morgan Brice offers a contemporary story with a strong paranormal vibe in Badlands. What I liked here is that we get to see Simon’s psychic abilities and really get a sense of what he is capable of. Owning a psychic shop was never in Simon’s plans, but he is making a living. There are various residents in town that have low level psychic ability and Simon and his shop have become important to all of them. When a serial killer continues to be one step ahead of everyone, Simon gets more involved with the case than he ever intended.
When Simon and Vic meet there is a definite spark, but when Vic gets called away, the men think that they will never see each again. Vic still doesn’t understand what he saw on his previous job and he knows his partner, as well as the department, won’t believe him and he feels he needs to keep all aspects of his relationship with Simon secret. Vic doesn’t want to believe in the paranormal and often refers to Simon’s abilities as “woo woo” stuff, which started to sound too condescending for my tastes as their relationship progressed.
The main focus of the book is on finding and stopping the serial killer. While I liked the story and the atmosphere, it was a little uneven for me. Simon has studied and taught folklore all of his life and every time he has a vision he seems mostly unprepared and completely shaken. Yes, the visions are of murder, but I thought Simon should have had a little better handle on dealing with his abilities at this point. Simon needing extra care then advances the relationship between Simon and Vic, but the dialogue of their first intimate scene sounded too intimate to me their first time. The dialogue read like a list of romantic clichés at times and felt more emotionless because of it.
The countdown was on to find the killer, but there was some intensity lacking for me with this killer. His motives were a little vague and there wasn’t that intense high energy I look for as a serial killer book progresses. However, it’s a reasonable story to take a look at though for a paranormal vibe in a contemporary setting.
This was the first audio I have listened to performed by Kale Williams and I will definitely be checking out more of his work. I did have to adjust somewhat as to me he sounded remarkably like another well-known narrator in the genre. I looked forward to listening to this story more because his performance really added to the experience. All of the characters sounded unique and being that the setting was in the South, he had accents for some of the characters as well. I did notice that the accents were not fully sustained at times throughout a particular character’s narrative, but it was minor. The production was also well made and it was a smooth audio to listen to from start to finish. If this book interests you, I would certainly suggest picking up the audio.