By Paul Thaler

Published by Dark Ink, February 7, 2023

Review by The Horror Zine Staff Reviewer Heather Miller

Buy the book HERE

the maddening

Every once in a while, a book comes along which takes the reader's expectations and blows them out of the water. This is one of those books.

The Maddening is the story which revolves around three people: the killer, a true psychopath; the ex-cop-turned-crime-writer who pursues him; and the deeply troubled young woman caught between them. But the best part about the whole thing? The psycho serial killer is obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe.

Calling himself simply "Poe," the antagonist—a man covered in Poe-inspired tattoos—disguises himself in a Poe-esque wig and mustache when he goes out to choose and capture his victims.  He then murders them in horrific and heinous (and SLOW) ways, observing their suffering closely so he can write about it in his precious manuscript.  

And of course, his good pal Edgar whispers to him while he does it all.

PJ Bones, the cop-turned-author, is getting older. He's bitter and jaded and a bit of an alcoholic.  Enter Clara Knox, a young Irish beauty who sweeps Bones off his feet and has him quickly eating out of her hand. Which is just what she needs, because Clara is out to get the man who attacked her over a year ago, cutting her throat and leaving her for dead, and she needs PJ's help.

Of course, her would-be murderer was the man who calls himself Poe.

What follows is a cat-and-mouse game full of dark secrets, lies, betrayals, despair, and torture.  Poe continues to kill, Clara becomes more unhinged by the day, and Bones just tries to make sense of it all and save the woman he loves (and finish his latest book, which is now way past its deadline).

The story is well-paced and intense, with kills that are cringingly gruesome. Poe is a fascinating villain, Clara a perfect doomed heroine. The Edgar Allan Poe references will make the dark little hearts of horror readers sigh with happiness.  

The book draws the reader in immediately and doesn't let go. Switching back and forth between the thoughts and actions of each character, with bits of Poe's manuscript thrown in, the chapters fly by.  

A truly praiseworthy offering from author Paul Thaler, this book is sure to appeal to fans of crime fiction, horror, and of course, the master himself, Edgar.