Review of Becoming the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

Before I requested the ARC of Becoming the Boogeyman, I had not read the first book in the series, Chasing the Bogeyman; if I had, I doubt that I would have requested Becoming the Boogeyman. Honestly most of Chasing the Boogeyman was very good. It’s fiction but is told as true crime. I admittedly Googled to find out which portions were fiction (most of it) and which were non-fiction (little beyond the author’s interjection of himself, the town of Edgewood, MD, and some family and friends). That particular novel ended with a huge gap in time that removed me from the world of that book and felt a bit slapped together like an afterthought. I do understand why he did it but personally thought the book was the worse for it. And, because of that ending (and my thought that I really didn’t need more like this book), I would not have taken on another book in the series. (I did give the book 4 stars; would have been much higher with a better ending.) So, now let’s talk about Becoming the Boogeyman.

Blurb: A riveting, haunting sequel to the New York Times bestselling thriller Chasing the Boogeyman—a tale of obsession and the adulation of evil, exploring modern society’s true-crime obsession with unflinching honesty, sparing no one from the glare of the spotlight. Will those involved walk away from the story of a lifetime in order to keep their loved ones safe? Or will they once again be drawn into a killer’s web? As the story draws to its shattering conclusion, only one person holds all the answers—and he just may be the most terrifying monster of them all.

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In Richard Chizmar’s Becoming the Boogeyman, he once again invites the reader to the town of Edgewood, MD, which is northeast of Baltimore but most of the action occurs in his new town of Bel Air (an actual town near Edgewood). The Boogeyman who terrorized Edgewood in 1988 is now imprisoned in western Maryland, but Chizmar is still in conversation with him in order to determine the location of potential other victims. No information is forthcoming, but what is forthcoming is a reoccurrence of the terror that seized northeastern Maryland many years ago as new murders occur that seem to be a follow-up to the Boogeyman’s reign of terror.

In an effort to make this fictionalized true crime seem true, Chizmar adds too many tangents for my taste. Parts of the nostalgic account of his childhood in Edgewood that he is writing become passages in Becoming the Boogeyman. Also he incorporates a series of flashbacks. Now, admittedly, these probably add to the overall story but felt more like filler in the way they were presented. And, again, I understand that these were formatted to imitate a true crime novel. The net effect, however, (for me) was a novel that frequently felt all over the place and which was easy to put down but harder to pick up again. This accounts for the unheard of two weeks that it took me to finish reading my primary novel (this one). Ugh.

That said, when Chizmar focused on the main action, the mystery of who was copycatting the Boogeyman, the story was very good, keeping my attention. The ending, this time around, was also good with it excellent twists, but it opened up the possibility of a third book, which I’m not sure that anyone except aficionados really needs/wants. I felt like the first book was enough; the second was okay but with a definite lack of cohesiveness; and a third? Why? Obviously that’s just me. I definitely prefer more focus in my fiction, even when it’s trying to mimic non-fiction. And, frankly, I wanted to feel scary-thrilled more than I was. The tension when reached was never maintained.

Thanks to Gallery Books and Netgalley for sending me a copy.

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