Niceville by Carsten Stroud

Book Description:

Published: June 12, 2012

Something is wrong in Niceville. . .
A boy literally disappears from Main Street. A security camera captures the moment of his instant, inexplicable vanishing. An audacious bank robbery goes seriously wrong: four cops are gunned down; a TV news helicopter is shot and spins crazily out of the sky, triggering a disastrous cascade of events that ricochet across twenty different lives over the course of just thirty-six hours.
Nick Kavanaugh, a cop with a dark side, investigates. Soon he and his wife, Kate, a distinguished lawyer from an old Niceville family, find themselves struggling to make sense not only of the disappearance and the robbery but also of a shadow world, where time has a different rhythm and where justice is elusive.
. . .Something is wrong in Niceville, where evil lives far longer than men do.
Compulsively readable, and populated with characters who leap off the page, Niceville will draw you in, excite you, amaze you, horrify you, and, when it finally lets you go, make you sorry you have to leave.

Review –


I loved this book from the very beginning.  It’s a combination of a black comedy,ancient-but still active hatreds, pure evil and paranormal activity.

So much happens in this book so here are some high points:

  • Rainey Teague vanishes one afternoon in the sleepy Southern town of Niceville. Several days later, he is found in a place where it seems impossible for him to be. (a grave)
  • The Teagues are one of the four families who have ruled Niceville since its founding and that bitter feuds, going back a century or more, rage among them.
  • Two bank robbers are pursued by police as they make off with more than $2 million dollars.
  • Their confederate, stationed on a hillside, proceeds with military precision to shoot and kill the drivers of all four police cars in pursuit of the robbers and also downs a news helicopter.
  • Kate Kavanaugh, an idealistic lawyer, is married to Nick Kavanaugh, formerly of the Special Forces, now a “ruthless but fair” lawman with a taste for vigilante justice that leaves suspected criminals unlikely to sin again — or perhaps even to walk and talk.
  • For decades, people have vanished from Niceville at a rate far above the national average. In the course of this novel, several more leading citizens go missing.
  • There is talk of a curse on the town, and outside Niceville looms Crater Sink, an apparently bottomless body of water that Native Americans have long considered a source of evil. Many of the missing, it is feared, might have somehow met their fate in Crater Sink.
  • We witness demonic, truly frightening deaths (“darkness flew at him, black wings, razor-edged beaks, claws ripping, yellow eyes with a green light, a crushing force thick with rage and hate. The feeding began”),
  • We meet many twisted characters. A leading citizen has for years been photographing his teenage daughters with a camera hidden in the ceiling of their bathroom. A dentist dispenses overdoses of happy gas to make young female patients “unwitting models in erotic photo-essays.” We see a drunken father “teaching his toddler how to pull-start a gas-powered weed whacker.” We’re then warned, unnecessarily, “It wasn’t going to end well.”
  • Most of the twisted characters meet their just demise and justly so while others remain alive at the end of the tale.  Just which ones, you’ll have to read the book for yourself.

Five stars *****