DARKBEAT, by James Solo

DARKBEAT, by James Solo

A professional drummer of some note is dragged from his car and attacked violently by a police officer in a case of mistaken identity.  This is witnessed by his wife and many bystanders.  As a martial arts student, the drummer feels he should have been able to do something to defend himself and develops a severe case of depression over his “emasculation” and becomes impotent with his wife, develops writers block when he desperately needs to be writing lyrics for a new album, and, in general, feels that he has been singled out for humiliation by the universe.

He and his wife go to a resort in Cuba for a winter vacation to see if that will help clear up this debilitating condition.  The drummer is introduced to the practice of Santeria (even though it is illegal and must be practiced in hidden, out-of-the-way locations) by the resort director, and becomes obsessed by the feeling of power he experiences during the rites. After having extensive discussions with the resort director, a psychiatrist who is running this resort because the government says he must, the drummer returns to Canada and studies everything he can find on the subject of Santeria.

The more he learns about Santeria, his obsession with the power he felt during the ceremony increases, and he begins to practice the rites in secret.  He experiences blackouts where he comes to himself in odd places having no idea what he is doing there or what has happened in the time since he was last aware of himself. He also exhibits radical personality shifts from his “normal” self to a violent, unreasoning persona.

As his behavior becomes more and more bizarre and violent, his wife contacts the resort director who has traveled to Toronto for a meeting of psychiatrists from around the world and the man is surprised and concerned that the drummer has become obsessed, even though he is the one who introduced the drummer to Santeria and had many intense, detailed conversation with him while he and his wife were at the resort.

This seemed to be disingenuous and I kept waiting to find out that the resort director was, in fact, a devotee of Santeria but denying his role to the wife for ulterior purposes. Not so.  For some reason he is depicted as genuinely concerned and astonished at the change the drummer’s wife describes of her husband’s behavior.  I found it odd that the writer would portray this character, who was instrumental in introducing the drummer to this voodoo-like religion, even giving him supposedly “sacred” stones used in rites for decades, to be suddenly baffled by the drummer’s continued obsession with Santeria after returning home. Due to his schedule at the convention, he is never able to meet with the wife or the drummer and tragedy results.

With the exception of the jarring note of the inexplicable response from the resort director/psychiatrist, the book is well-written and carries the continually heightening tension of the obsession well through the entire book.  It certainly works as a horror story and even has a surprise disastrous ending! For true horror fans, “DarkBeat” is well worth the price.  They will enjoy figuring out why the book is titled as it is.

Per agreement with the provider, I was given a copy of this book free in exchange for a review.  I will post this review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, LibraryThing,  Smashwords and on my blog athttps://museofhellreviews.wordpress.com.

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