His Favourite Graves

Written by Paul Cleave

Review written by Tony R. Cox

Tony R Cox is an ex-provincial UK journalist. The Simon Jardine series is based on his memories of the early 70s - the time of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll - when reporters relied on word of mouth and there was no internet, no mobile phones, not even a fax machine.

His Favourite Graves
Orenda Books
RRP: £9.99
Released: November 09, 2023
Pbk / Kindle

This fast-paced, enthralling thriller treads a fine line between psychological horror and full-blooded excitement. The plot is possibly the most unusual I have read, but that amplifies its intrigue and the highly unusual premise of the storyline. 


Schoolboy Lucas Connor is the subject of horrible bullying, trapped in a locker at school. He is about to discover that his potential saviour can be an obscenely perverted killer. Naturally, with Lucas missing, the police are alerted and Sheriff Cohen springs into action.


The sheriff is a small-town American lawman whose lifestyle is about to go ballistically up in flames. His wife has moved out, his son is an obnoxious teenager with a social media obsession, and his father has moved back home after setting the care home, where he was a dementia patient, alight, leading to another patient dying. Sheriff Cohen is facing crippling legal bills. So far, so good, but then the storyline gets complicated.


The sheriff’s life involves fractured families, the collisions of youth, adulthood and old age, and constantly growing costs and debts, which look to culminate in him losing his home and becoming insolvent. How does the town’s chief law enforcer find a way out? Potential salvation is at hand, but it depends if he can find Lucas’s abductor and claim the reward.

This is a tale of a horrific crime, family strife, drunkenness and with plot lines that creep up and constantly jolt the reader with shock after shock. Cleave is a writer with the ability to manage a host of disparate actions and weave them together into a blanket of anticipation.


Some use the phrase ‘twists and turns’ to describe plots that have carefully managed asides to maximise interest. His Favourite Graves goes well beyond that. This is no comfortable downhill slalom on reassuring snow. Perhaps being trapped on a coach tour of New Zealand’s Southern Alps with endless hairpins, and a driver who’s lost control of the brakes is more the analogy, but with the snow and mountains replaced by burning daytime heat, stifling humidity and black nights in an impenetrable forest.


The logic to every sequence, is frequently blown apart as the characters react to the totally unexpected turn of events. It moves on, darker, deeper, into the eye of a storm.


All the characters are complex, several are disturbed and have their own problems, all are clearly the product of an author whose internet browser history would give most people palpitations, or a vivid imagination. The reader is mercilessly captured in suspense and fed morsels of crimes as if they are addicts, always in need of another ‘fix’. That buzz is sated by turning the pages.


The chapters are short and gripping. Finales appear without fanfares and each one leads on to more; there’s hardly time to take a breath before we discover that it wasn’t a solution, just another are jigsaw piece as the overall picture evolves.


There is a lasting message from His Favourite Graves: evil is a relative concept, and ‘relative’ has two definitions.

Book Reviews
About Us
Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Contact Shots Editor