Twelve Nights at Rotter House
During the titular 12 nights at the deserted, haunted Rotterdam Mansion, nothing is as it seems, even for the jaded expectations of horror geeks like Felix Allsey and Thomas Ruth. Felix, a travel writer starting what may be his last book at the notorious Rotter House, has invited Thomas to join him there in order to repair their damaged friendship. They debate the paranormal and discuss movies, as they usually do, until things start to go very wrong. Thomas is convinced of the superstitious happenings while Felix isn't so sure; in the process they remember their shameful past. The two men discover that while Rotter House is indeed a dark place, this is a horror story of their own making.
J.W. Ocker's (author of the Edgar-winning Poe-Land) meta-thriller is tailor-made for an age where genre tropes have been repeatedly ripped apart then put back together. He depicts the obsessions of his nerd characters with great strength,in part because he balances real affection for them with an author's sense of clarity. The tension of the book is in understanding a situation and still becoming helpless in its grasp. And though the final act doesn't quite work in comparison to the preceding pages, this is still a gripping novel with a superb understanding of how slowly to unravel a mystery while playing with the narrative. Fans of Ocker's travel writing and other work will not want to miss his distinctive voice in Twelve Nights. --C.M. Crockford, freelance reviewer