Saturday, March 9, 2019

Book Review: HANTU MACABRE: A SUZANNA SIM PARANORMAL CRIME MYSTERY (Jill Girardi) by Dave Wolff

Hantu Macabre: A Suzanna Sim Paranormal Crime Mystery
Author: Jill Girardi
Cover and layout artist: Teck Hee
Publisher: Fixi Novo, October 2018
I started corresponding with Jill Girardi through snail mail in 1996, when she was co-owner of the indie label Mortal Coil Records (with Insatanity guitarist Jay Lipitz if I recall correctly). After Mortal Coil she managed the indie label Razorback Records with Billy Nocera and wrote for indie fanzine Metal Mafia with Dea Evenbeck and Jenn Matthews. In the years I knew her she was dedicated to extreme metal and a passionate, resourceful writer. Her dedication, passion for writing and resourcefulness have spilled over into her novel writing, as shown in her latest opus published last October. Hantu Macabre: A Suzanna Sim Paranormal Crime Mystery is a tale that spans four worlds, the rich and famous on top, the homeless and rebellious on the bottom, the private investigators on the sidelines and the occult practicioners in the shadows. Those worlds are constituents of a much larger picture that should keep you turning the pages if you’re into murder mysteries, occult thrillers or biographies of punk rock personalities. Set in the country of Malaysia, it follows protagonist Suzanna Sim, described as “a hard-boiled, tattooed punk rocker forced to grow up on the streets of George Town, Penang when she was orphaned at a young age.” Sim runs a private investigation firm specializing in occult based crimes (in a plot somewhat similar to X-Files) with her partner Tokek, who is not of the physical world but rather a toyol (a mythical spirit in Javanese/Southeast Asian mythology), she searches for the murderer of a renowned actress and stumbles across a former disco singer and witch doctor who was supposedly hanged in the late 1970s. The characters and their experiences are grppingly real from the first sentence, no matter how unreal the circumstances faced by Sim and Tokek (those two character also have their own angle to enhance the novel). Hantu Macabre is available in print and ebook form and can be purchased through Amazon and Goodreads. -Dave Wolff

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