Laird Barron writes horror with more literary flair than normal, like Henry James but with satanists. In more contemporary terms, his style reminds me of John Langan or John Horner Jacobs, people who take care with their prose but who aren't afraid to throw around shapeshifters or occultists to keep the peasants in line.
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All is a collection of longish short stories set primarily in the American Pacific northwest. My favorite was "The Hand of Glory," which reads more like prohibition noir than horror, at least till the twist at the end. If you've ever enjoyed one of Stephen King's gangster stories, you'll like this--same boozy atmosphere where life may be cheap but the dames ain't.
Are these stories scary? My scare meter broke a good thirty years ago. The same way chronic smokers can't taste spice in their curry, I can't detect terror in my fiction.
But I found them enjoyable, especially as narrated by the hardboiled voice of Ray Porter, who also did a standup job with the Amityville Horror. More on that next week, I think...
When Covid first hit, I started doing book talks on social media as a way to keep in touch with people. I never got out of the habit. I don't discuss books by my clients, and if I don't like a book, I won't discuss it at all. While I will sometimes focus on craft or offer gentle critical perspectives, as a matter of professional courtesy, I don't trash writers. Unless they're dead. Then the gloves come off.