REVIEW: The Neon Darkness Omnibus – Skot Harris

The Neon Darkness Omnibus - Skot Harris

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Romance, War, Fiction

LGBTQ+ Category: Bi, Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

The Definitive Neon Darkness Saga. Contains the complete Neon Darkness Trilogy and its companion, Wasted Letters. Newly edited and condensed with bonus material, including screenplay excerpts, author Q&A, book club questions, and more.

SNAPSHOTS AT THE FONTAINE MOTEL [Book One]May 1996. Six inseparable friends seek revenge after one of them is brutally attacked. But their vigilante justice spins violently out of control and accidentally leaves the attacker dead. Desperate to escape as the FBI inches dangerously close, they flee, speeding across state lines, down dusty backroads to the Fontaine Motel, an isolated hideout in middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma. In a few lightning-fast days, their temporary safety reveals much more: self-discovery, love, and deadly secrets that will not only change everything, but threaten their very lives.

NEON DARKNESS [Book Two]In 1994, high school seniors Oliver and Grant defied the odds and fell in love, but after a shocking murder shatters their sleepy small town, Grant disappears without a trace. Now, ten years later, Oliver attends their class reunion, desperate to see Grant again, but he discovers the past brings more than happiness . . . It brings secrets too.

SUDDENLY ALIVE [Book Three]Kelly Spencer’s best friend was brutally murdered nine years ago . . . and it’s happened again. To solve it she must revisit the past with the help of an unlikely and reluctant sidekick who understands–and shares–her painful past, and who might just hold the key to everything. Catching a vicious yet charming serial killer will lead them to old friends and new allies, and they’ll do whatever it takes to uncover the truth . . . before it’s too late.

WASTED LETTERS [Book Four]In 1970, before deploying to Vietnam, quiet Conrad Burke meets freewheeling Travis Reid in a Detroit record store. Their deep but complicated friendship spans the next three decades, through music, letters, war, marriage . . . and murder.

The Review

SNAPSHOTS AT THE FONTAINE MOTEL – 1996

Kelly, Jill, Berger, Ford, Matty, and Fawn are all high school friends.

It’s time for the Prom and then in just a few weeks, graduation from Isaac High School.  When Fawn is faced with tragedy, Berger, Ford, Matty and Jill go to confront Mason. Mason is the school jock who comes from a wealthy family and he has always bullied their little group.  The next day at school, Kelly finds out that Mason is dead.  She chose not to go with her friends for revenge, and tried to encourage them to go to the police.  But her friends thought no one would believe Fawn because of Mason’s influential family. Kelly’s friends go on the run to lay low for a while. Kelly stays behind and has to deal with FBI agent, Frank Overstreet.  Overstreet is cool and calm and doesn’t really pressure Kelly to answer questions about her missing friends.  Jill keeps in touch with Kelly, but little do the realize what dangerous manipulation and evil they will have to face, and how the repercussions could destroy them all.

NEON DARKNESS – 1994

Oliver Foster, Charlotte “Char’ Wolff and Grant Carver are getting ready to take a big step into the future, graduating from Hickory Grove High School. Shy, quiet, sweet Oliver Foster has hopes for a future in photography/painting. Nineteen year old, bad boy, Grant Carver catches Oliver’s attention, and the two very opposite souls make a connection. Oliver has a best friend by the name of Charlotte “Char” Wolff.  Char is snarky, and is a good solid friend to Oliver. Char hopes for the best when Oliver expresses how he feels about Grant. But Char has always felt an uneasiness about him. Oliver will have to realize that things are not what they seem. 

SUDDENLY ALIVE – 2005

Kelly Spencer (from Snapshots At The Fontaine Motel) has grown up and has a great career. Her past of heartbreak comes back to haunt her with the loss of her unlikely best friend.  She has to go back to Detroit to identify her friend’s body and finds herself in a whirlwind of surprises.  With the assistance of her boyfriend Felix, she focuses on the Oliver Foster case.  What she discovers puts her in touch with Char Wolff (from Neon Darkness) in one of the most bizarre murder cases.

WASTED LETTERS -1970

Travis Reid has worked at Jorge’s Vortex music store since he was sixteen. He even has dreams of owning a music store in the future. Conrad Burke enters the Vortex out of the blue and he and Travis hit it off really well. But Conrad only has a short time to spend with Travis. He’s a draftee and will be heading off to the Vietnam War. Travis and Conrad make the most out of that window of time. When Conrad ships out, they write to each other, but then the letters stop coming and Travis is devastated that he never hears from Conrad again.  

The “Neon Darkness” is four intense, suspenseful and intriguing novels.  “Snapshots at the Fontaine Hotel” and “Neon Darkness” introduce young adults who are about to finish high school and face new futures. But not all is what it seems, and their world is full of lies and manipulation that will slowly destroy their dreams. What will be left when the destruction is over?

Skot Harris has a unique writing style in these dark themed, psychological murder mysteries. Each of these novels is twisted, complex and shocking as the plots get deeper and more is revealed.  As the stories, develop they make a connection between the characters and location in the stories – including Detroit, Squares Record Store (Vortex), The Fontaine Motel, and Detroit.

Harris also does a magnificent job recreating history, taking the reader back in time, with many popular musicians, songs and TV trivia from the 1970’s through 2009.

There are all sorts of characters in these books, and Harris delves deep into their personalities. but the one that stood out for me was Frank Overstreet.  He is very much the hero in these novels – this should have been called the “Frank Overstreet Mysteries.” Frank is a fabulous character, persistent in a subtle sort of way, following the sordid trail of a killer.  He never has to force or berate anyone to get them to see the danger affecting them or their friends.

There’s also interesting “Bonus Material” in the “Omnibus”:  deleted scenes, Kelly’s letter, a screenplay, playlist and more. 

My only dilemma – the author also submitted one of the four books in the omnibus, “Wasted Letters,” for review as a stand-alone. I started reading “Wasted Letters” first and stopped when I got to 1975 because it continues to 2006.  I wanted to avoid spoilers so I began reading the “Omnibus” and then finished out “Wasted Letters” with it. I’ll be reviewing that book separately.

This was an outstanding series from Skot Harris – I highly recommend it!

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.

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