"The Pickle King"
By Rebecca Promitzer
This interesting story is as strange as the cover art of glowing pickles and an eyball in a jar. An exciting mystery-adventure with twists turns and a few supernatural elements set in a dismal rainy town. Rated 3.5 (gruesome imagery, perilous situations, ghosts)
Bea and a few of the other students stuck in Elbow for the summer are forced to spend time together - it's a school thing. When Bea takes a photo of a mysterious dead body strange things begin to happen. The mystery involves ghosts, shady men, secret societies, missing persons, and swamp people living under the refuse in the city dump. It's plot is a little wonky but the suspense, twists, and turns tend to make up for it.
Bea and the other "Raintown Convicts," as they come to call themselves, act as a makeshift "Scooby Gang" and embark on a gruesome quest to uncover the towns' many buried secrets. Though forced together the gang become friends risking their lives for one another from attacks by giant rats and demented surgeons. Whether it is a bag full of human intestines, a secret stairway covered in roaches, or a mansion stocked with human parts, the grizzly details and descriptive narrative are what keep this story interesting.
Everything culminates in a showdown between Bea and a centuries-old tycoon. That's right he is avoiding death with a steady supply of replacement parts and organs harvested from the town's discarded and forgotten residents.
The narrative has holes and the mystery is a little out there, but Promitzer's gift with language and description draws the reader into this uniquely odd town with quirky characters you may actually relate to and mysteries you'll want to solve.