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The Astronomer's Crypt
by David Lee Summers
Lachesis Publishing, 2016, QPB $14.95, 274 pages
Published: December 2016

Two years prior, Mike Teter was working as a telescope operator at the Carson Peak observatory in New Mexico when a terrifying hallucination and a horrific tragedy prompted him to quit his job. Now, anxious to provide for his family, he returns to the work he once loved in a place he still dreads. And there is more than enough danger, supernatural and mundane, to justify his alarm.

Jerome Torres, site manager and inheritor of an ancient Apache tradition of guardianship, reassures Mike that all will be well, but quickly realizes that dark forces are breaking through the blessing wards his grandfather put in place.

Roscoe Perkins has been on a losing streak, and when he has nothing left to lose he agrees to locate a potent artifact hidden away in the caves beneath the observatory.

In the best tradition of horror fiction, we have courageous protagonists, characters who cross the line of good and evil in both directions, unspeakable evil from a forgotten age, and a villain behind the scenes who is attempting to bring back dark powers in the (no doubt mistaken) belief that he can control them. In addition, we have ghosts – both beneficent and malignant – drug dealers and hit men, a certain amount of ambiguity as to what constitutes the portals of doom, and the observatory itself: a mountain-based setting that is by turns breath-taking, eerie, academic, and deadly.  Humorous moments provide the comic relief that allows you to laugh off the mounting tension, but then the story ratchets up again and you cannot turn the pages fast enough.

Author David Lee Summers is a Stephen King fan, and in case you do not recognize the distinctive style, his protagonist carries his favorite King novel about with him.  The settings and depictions are especially vivid: Summers draws on his own experiences as a telescope operator to convey the camaraderie and loneliness, the risks and painstaking work, the background grandeur and the human frailties that go into making astronomical discoveries possible. 

Strongly recommended to all who enjoy Stephen King’s novels. – Chris Wozney

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