Bad Man, by Dathan Auerbach, follows the story of Ben who loses his brother, Eric, at a grocery store one afternoon. Flash forward to five years in the future and Ben has not given up hope in finding his brother and starts working at that same grocery store! Ben can sense something is wrong with the store, or the employees, or even the townspeople… he knows he is on the right path to discovering the truth of his brother.
The first few pages in this book are straight fire and hooked me in right away. I had a sense of excitement that this book was going to be an instant 5-star read. I started having all kinds of nostalgia vibes of me and my older brother when we were younger. We would play games and annoy each other just like Ben and Eric. You get a sense of the relationship between the two brothers and you can start to learn just how much the vanishing of young Eric affects Ben and his family life. But after Eric’s disappearance things go a little downhill…
For starters, I felt saturated with the inner workings and description of a grocery store. I have been in one… quite a few actually… and many times. I did not need all the drawn out details of the store. We get introduced to some of Ben’s new co-workers, but as the pages keep turning, I found myself forgetting all about the plot line of the vanishing brother and wondering where the heck this was going. Was my time just being wasted?
Once you pass the halfway mark in the book, it seems the story gets a little more on track to what you expect it to be about. You start to think maybe there will be some answers coming and some plot twists and less grocery store descriptions and long, semi-meaningless conversations between Ben and his co-workers that add what to the plot? I am not sure if it’s just to throw all these red herrings our way or what, but it didn’t work for me.
And when the fate of Eric is revealed, it just seems rushed and almost under-explained. After hundreds of pages, that was what we get? Then the book just ends. It’s all just a little jumbled up at the end. I think the book could have been at LEAST 100 pages shorter and been just as effective if not more effective. The amount of time the book focused on things that were just totally unrelated to what is happening can be wiped out. I had higher hopes for this one because the synopsis sounded so good. But 400 pages is just too long of a book for the way this one panned out in my opinion…
Also, I went into this book expecting it to be a horror novel. It was definitely more of a mystery/suspense book and read as such. It gets 3 out of 5 stars from me.
Dathan Auerbach writes extremely well and I want to check out his first book, Penpal, as well as keep an open eye for his future works. Thank you to Doubleday for providing the Night Worms this ARC in exchange for an honest review!