I was hesitant about agreeing to read and possibly review Annabel Lee by bestselling and award-winning author Mike Nappa. I devoured Edgar Alan Poe’s stories as a child and his haunting tale about Annabel Lee has always stuck with me. I knew I would not be happy if Mike Nappa’s novel was a riff on that – luckily it isn’t. Instead this is a thriller, Book #1 of the new Coffey & Hill PI series. It does, however, have a slightly otherworldly air to it that drew me in, in addition to a sinister edge. Sound interesting? If so, read on and enter our giveaway because one of you is going to win a copy!
Annabel Lee Truckson lives in the middle of nowhere with her uncle, who everyone calls Truck. Well, to be honest, they live on a large farm just east of Peachtree, Alabama, which most people would consider the middle of nowhere. To say that Uncle Truck is a bit paranoid would be a gross understatement. He doesn’t seem to trust anybody, except maybe the Mute but that’s a long story. Still it’s clear Uncle Truck loves Annabel Lee with all of his heart. She’s been homeschooled because Uncle Truck doesn’t think public schools are worth anything, so she is educated after a fashion. Mostly he’s taught her all kinds of languages, for which she just seems to have a knack. It’s the only life she’s known so she doesn’t question it – for her, it’s normal.
The other being Uncle Truck loves is a nasty caged German Shepherd who only responds to German commands. Uncle Truck has taught Annabel Lee those commands but she doesn’t want anything to do with that evil dog, who looks like he’d just as soon see her dead as look at her. That dog gives her the shivers.
“What I don’t like is that dog.
It don’t bark at me, not ever. But it growls. I can almost feel the rumbling in its throat before I hear it with my ears. Whenever the dog sees me, the growling starts. Sometimes Truck’ll tell it to shut-up-mutt and swat it across the nose. But most times Uncle Truck don’t even hear it. Most times it’s just the dog and me, even when Truck or one of his farmhands is there.
The dog looks me dead in the eye. Never wags its tail. Never moves off its haunches. Just looks at me and growls, low, deep, and regular. It reminds me of some story out of a fairy tale, except the magic here is real, and bad. Like that dog was once an evil warlock, vanquished by a handsome prince, and as his punishment, he was transformed forever into a dog that eats fingers and lives in a cage…”
Then one night Truck pulls Annabel Lee out of bed in the wee hours and rushes her away from the house, down into a hidden underground bunker. There he leaves her with strict instructions and her worst nightmare, that evil dog. The instructions? She’s not to unlock the door for anyone, even him, unless she hears their secret passcode. Even him? Yep, even him. Now she knows her uncle and he never does anything unless there’s a really good reason for it. She knows if he tells her to do that then there has to be a good reason. But one thing bothers her – why did he have to leave that nasty dog with her? Will it kill her and eat her fingers as soon as he’s gone? Will her uncle come back to find a fat dog and just her bones? She doesn’t doubt whether he’ll come back, at least not at first. He said he would, so he will. Uncle Truck always does what he says he’ll do. Always…
But this time he can’t. What Annabel doesn’t know is that within minutes of him hiding the entrance to the bunker and returning to the farmhouse, the farm is swarmed by a Dr. Smith’s black ops commandoes. Despite Truck’s elaborate preparations and plans for just such a day, he and his farmhand militia troops are no match for them. Even the Mute, an ex-Army sniper, knows they’ve lost. He does what he can to help out; however, Truck’s instructions to him have always been that, no matter what goes down, the Mute must survive to protect Annabel Lee from harm. The Mute is the only person aside from Dr. Smith and Truck who knows who Annabel Lee really is and he has been instructed to protect her with his life, and he would never disobey those instructions. The Mute knows Smith will stop at nothing to find Annabel Lee and that when he does, her freedom will end forever.
And that brings us to Samuel Hill, who’s done work for Truck from time to time. Doing that work when he was involved with Trudy Coffey cost him not only his role in their PI agency but ended their relationship. It was a high cost to pay but he owed Truck his life so he paid it. Now he’s got to confront Coffey because he gave her something as a gift that he needs to retrieve to help Truck and the Mute. He knows Coffey isn’t going to be happy about it but he can’t help that. The truth is that he doesn’t know why Truck wants him to hand off the gift either but he’s curious, especially after his IHOP meeting with the Mute. Meanwhile Coffey has had an unexpected and unwelcome visit from Dr. Smith, a visit that has raised every hair on the back of her neck. Now she and Hill are very curious about what’s really going on, and you know what they say about curiosity…
The dynamic tension between Coffey and Hill is alone worth the read. The Mute is a guy who has a very strict code by which he lives. It may not match your code or mine but he’s actually a very honorable man and it’s easy to see why Truck trusts him. He and Hill both owe their lives to Truck and both will do whatever it takes to repay that debt. Dr. Smith is a classic villain of the medical/scientific type – think deranged scientist and you’ve pretty much got him – a man with no conscience who sees other humans as objects instead of peers. Yuck, yuck, double yuck. Annabel Lee? I loved this spunky little kid but I’m not going to tell you why there’s a race to find her because that would spoil everything.
There are essentially two threads to this story, below ground and above ground: #1) this thread is about Annabel Lee locked in a bunker not knowing what has happened on the ground above her while scared out of her wits at first, and then bored out of her mind and worried she may not survive if no one comes to get her or the guard dog; and #2), this thread is about what is happening above ground at the farm and in Atlanta, GA to Coffey, Hill, the Mute, and Dr. Smith – amid their mad concurrent search for Annabel Lee. This is a great start to what looks like it will be a fun PI series. I can’t wait to see what will happen in Book #2!
Can’t wait to read it? Annabel Lee is available from your favorite online bookseller, so just click the link below and you can have it to read asap.
I’d love to get your comments on Annabel Lee, Mike Nappa and/or his other work, and/or this review.
One lucky reader will win an ARC (advance reading copy) of Annabel Lee by Mike Nappan!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 3/12/2015, at 11:59pm EST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
5) If you already follow PopcornReads on Twitter or Linky, you must still complete that part of the Rafflecopter form for your follow to count as an entry.
6) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you. Please allow 3-4 weeks for book delivery.
7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
Click here to find other book giveaways we’re hosting that you might like to enter!