Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Greylock by Paula Cappa Gothic Supernatural Classical Music Mystery - It Had to Become a Personal Favorite!

Behind Josef, a woman screamed. He turned. A bird, with a wingspan of almost two feet, swung up to the ceiling. Josef crouched down like everyone else. 
Lexie didn’t move a muscle, his vision following the bird. Everyone dashed in wild circles, screaming, shoving, tripping over each other. “How did that get in here?!”
“Oh God, that’s not a bat, is it?”
“Get it out!” “Looks like a hawk.”
“Everybody get out!”
Tim and others tried to direct the bird to the doorway, but it darted ceiling to floor, like some jet bomber. It zoomed the tables then dove down, skidding into a landing.
Every photo crashed to the floor. The manic thing tore up the silk and netted decorations, sent the loops of flowers off their hooks, the whole time chattering  kee-kee-kee-kee-keeeeee! One guy tried to catch it under a basket. Another tried to snag it down with a shawl. Tim went after it with a broom.


Finally the bird found the archway out and

escaped. Howard wiped his brow with his handkerchief. “Holy shit! How weird. Must have been one of those psycho-pomps. You know, escorts to the afterlife.” He laughed alone on that one.
 “Not funny, you ass. Look at this destruction.” Tim was biting his thumb. 
Josef found Lexie by the front doors. “That was a black merlin. There he is. See him on that rooftop? Far to the left?”
“A what?” Josef looked up.
“Peregrine. Black merlin. Fastest falcons on the planet.”
“Yeah? How do you know it’s a black merlin?”
“Recognized his call. I want to kill that thing.”

By Paula Cappa

Wow! Once in awhile you find all of your favorite things within one book and this is one! Starting with the gothic feel of the storyline, even within a contemporary setting, add selected classical music, mostly minor, to support, and add a supernatural character to become the horror monster in this mystery and all I can add is that I loved it! It's fascinating, commanding, powerful and scary as hell...

“Hurry,” she said. He obeyed his aunt. Nine years old, he knew to trust Aunt Marta for everything. He dashed to the studio and sat at the Steinway. Was Dad still asleep? Would he hear him playing? “Play, Ah-lehk-SAY.” Auntie shouted from the bedroom. She sang his name as if to pitch him the first note.
 “Auntie? Will he‌—‌?”
 “He will hear your music. Begin.”
With trembling fingers, Alexei began Tchaikovsky’s Concerto Number One. He stumbled on the opening, failing to create the thundering chords, then stopped and began again. He hadn’t perfected the power of this concerto yet, but he knew his father loved it best. This will soothe him. Soaring though the allegro movement, Alexei enjoyed the familiar thrill of the music. The splendid harmonies urged him on as his fingers jumped across the keyboard. His father’s voice repeated in his mind.
All the world is music, my Lexie. Go inside the notes. The allegro movement would thrill his father too and make him open his eyes. What phantom? Auntie was just being Auntie. Tchaikovsky’s concerto would soothe his sick heart. The clear notes would send the phantom away. Dad would wake up smiling and say, Bravo, my boy, bravo. Music filled the house up to its gables. Resplendent notes played like spheres before Alexei’s eyes. Chasing one after the other. 
Flashings. Blurs of light. A kaleidoscope. Can you hear? Dad? I’m playing for you. Just like you play Tchaikovsky. Vibrations spun over Alexei’s body. Lively sound waves pulsed through his hands, throbbed into his left rib, a pleasant tingling. He inhaled the concerto’s warm tones. He swallowed the bright rhythms, his belly filling. Every chord tasted smoky. Octaves evaporated into aromas of melting candy‌—‌ razzes and dives and creamy crescendos. 
A beat later the music jammed. Choked to a dead stop. What did he do? Become the music, Lexie. Believe. He hit the white keys. Nothing. He slammed the black keys. Nothing. What happened? A hammer stick? Again he pressed. Every key resisted. Demanding the piano to obey, Alexei struck the stubborn keys once more. “Come on. I believe!” The keys held like bricks in mortar. Why won’t it play? His fingers slid recklessly above the locked keys. 
“Please.” He fisted up his hands with a hard shake. “Play.” Air flashed behind him. The concerto rolled forth. Sweeps and crescendos blasted. Glistening sounds broke over his head. He stared at his fists rigid above the piano keys. How was the concerto playing without him? Rhythms
hammered down. Vibrations shook the wood floor and wall paintings, nearly cracking the old plaster. The very air soared with music. 
Unable to stand the thundering a second longer, he fled the piano. The concerto followed him to the bricked chimney corner where he crouched. Booming, the double octave passages surrounded him. Eyes squeezed shut, hugging himself, ribs knocking, toes curling, he covered his ears. “What did I do? What’s happening? Dad! Make it stop!” The concerto halted. 
Did something sigh just then? A voice? Sounded just like the bed creaked. He’s awake. He’s up! Dawn flooded the studio, dusty rays humming with yellow light. “Dad?” A kiss misted against his forehead. He listened. Silence. Alexei burst into deep, quiet, sorrowful weeping. He let his hands drop, kitten-limp to his sides and lifted his head. 
Footsteps padded the hallway‌—‌ gentle and slow‌—‌ like treading upon a path of wool. Auntie Marta appeared at the doorway, half a lit candle in her hand. She blew it out, sat at the piano, covered her face and sobbed. Alexei watched her a moment, biting his lip, failing to hold his tongue. “Auntie, did he hear my music? Did he hear the concerto?” 
She lifted her face. “Oh yes, of course he heard your music. Alexei, don’t you know, child? The ear is the way.”

Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” played from

 the sound system. He smiled, taking it as a 
sign from the Muses that he was headed in
the right direction. Aunt Marta had never

 approved of his playing Billy Joel’s music. 

Poor old sweet Aunt Marta. She’d be happy
 to hear the news of his movin’ out plans.
 She never liked Carole Anne anyway.
Such a tragic happening. Alexei had played as his aunt had requested...while his father died in another room. Alexei had not played Tchaikovsky’s Concerto Number One since that time...

Now a grown man, he was playing things that his Aunt Marta did not approve of, but now as he listened to Billy Joel's Movin' Out, he knew that she would be happy
to hear the song title from him...he was moving out from his home and his marriage...

But he knew it was going to be difficult...and he found that it was much more than he realized... Carole Anne would never let him leave her and she'd make sure of that!

Alexei's character is sympathetic but also a little cavalier. His career has never really gone as he thought it would, until he first played the October Sonata...

But there was a secret about the October Sonata and Alexei had shared it with Carole Anne when they'd first been married, now she was threatening him, and was even, he later found, selling the exclusive piece to other pianists...

But that wasn't the only thing about the October Sonata. The best way to say it was that it was cursed...And when Alexei played it for the first time in public...It had awakened...

“Why is that? Why don’t you have a face, Varlok?”
“It was taken from me. When they seized my vision. I will not take your face when I seize yours.” 
“You’re disgusting. What world spawned you?” “I come here at the conjuring.”
“I never conjured you!”
 “You did. With every note of October. With every performance. Ahh, the timelessness of music.


And then Carole Anne was murdered, both carotid arteries slashed in a checkmark. But she wasn't the only one who had been killed this way. There had been three others...

Fortunately, Alexei had been awarded the opportunity to travel to Russia and record whale song for his proposed symphony, but the officer in charge of the case believed he was responsible... and there had been time for him to do it before he'd left, but he provided an alibi...

The belugas sang in streams of buzzes, clicks, and shrieks. Alexei followed a down sweep of trills. He mapped the notes and intervals. One whale whooped like a tiger’s growl. More sweeps and double sweeps. The songs went on nearly thirty minutes. The whales might have been applauding themselves. “They’re beneath us, really deep. God, I wish I could see them. I’m dying to see them.” Alexei leaned over the stern...
These musical marvels stirred the sea like a bowl of silk. What would that feel like? The sea and songs, the whales and sun? “I’m going in.” He tossed off his sneakers and jacket. 
“No, Mister Georg. Vater too cold,” Shemiossa warned.
Cold? Whales had the hottest blood of all! And right now their bodies were warming the sea with every flip, calling the sun inside every wave. Alexei dove in. Ahhhh, like swimming in warmed
cream. Buzzes and trills, screams and whoops. Treble strings stretched high. Was that a fragment of a scale in that call? The hydrophone hung from the ship’s hull. Had he pressed record? He did, of course he did. Pay attention! He came up for air inside this great sea of the oldest hierarchies. A beluga nearly met him head on. The tail-whack of another whale sent him under into a volume of whistles. He surfaced with a massive puff breath. Was there anything more invigorating than these giant white creatures twirling light as soap bubbles? Three belugas swam circles round him, checking him out. Alexei let them propel him farther out in the shifting currents. The whole pod surrounded him, these sea canaries rocking and rolling. 
Gleb called out to him and waved his arms to come back. No way. Alexei back-floated away from the ship. He followed the whales’ leaps like he was one of them. One shining beluga swam close enough to touch him. His single watery-grey eye, a porthole, invited him down. The grey-eyed whale propelled Alexei under. Sun light flowed like a waterfall beneath them. He followed the beluga into a funnel of water. Ten, twenty, maybe thirty belugas joined them. Their calls vibrated. His fleshed trembled. His ribs pulsed. Even his spine ached. He counted ten different vocalizations like violins’ up-bowing and down-bowing passage after passage. But he was running out of air fast.
The belugas powered Alexei up. That grey-eyed whale rubbed hard against his belly. Nearly a hug. Without any struggle from opposing currents, the belugas playfully hurled him to the surface. And just in time, he whacked up out of the water with a desperate new breath. 
Jovan tossed him a flotation ring. Alexei sucked in the beautiful air. He climbed aboard the ship and turned to see the whales one more time, to lock in their image. Only the metal-grey sea remained. “They’re gone?”
“Belugas go under...”

Ok, this is a little longer today, but the whale play was just too fun not to share! LOL...

Cappa's research on this book obviously has been extensive and she weaves a web of jealousy and intrigue even without adding the supernatural element. There are plenty of suspects in the murders, without involving Alexei, including those known and close to him. 

There is even romance as Alexei hooks up with a local news rep who seems to be perfect for him... But when everything starts coming out she is caught between the gossip from a former boyfriend/cop who's saying Alexei is about to be arrested and what her feelings are for Alexei.

Two interesting components I really enjoyed was the addition of a shaman who acted, first, as Alexei's translator while in Russia, but who then became even more important... The other was that Alexei had a love of mystery fiction such as Marlowe, which were highlights of my younger mystery fan days...

Have to say that what is creating havoc for Alexei and those caught in the supernatural component brings the most excitement and suspense to the novel. It brings the horror of The Raven and The Birds, and even a touch of The Shining, in a much more subdued, mysterious fashion due to the "magical tension."  The ending is intense and almost anticlimactic in its simplicity--if only because the activity seems impossible to actually do! Some really amazing, cool creativity went into the completion of this significant work.

I've not read this author before, but I'd have to add her to my favorite author list just on the basis of this one book...and, of course, this novel was added to my personal favorites for 2016. For me, this book was over-the-top in bringing me all that I could want into a few hundred pages! Highly recommended!


I’m happy to announce that my mystery Greylock has won a Paranormal Chanticleer International Book Award, 2015.  The category is Supernatural. This is a Blue Ribbon writing competition that has become a champion for emerging and talented authors around the globe. They are partners with the Independent Book Publishers Association, The Alliance of Independent Authors, and The Writer.
Paula Cappa is the recipient of a Chanticleer Book Award, the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Award, the Readers’ Favorite International Bronze Medal for Supernatural Suspense, and a Gothic Readers Book Club Award Winner in Outstanding Fiction.
She is the author of Greylock, The Dazzling Darkness, and Night Sea Journey—print editions published by Crispin Books, Milwaukee WI. Her short fiction has appeared in Dark Gothic Resurrected MagazineWhistling Shade Literary Journal, SmokeLong Quarterly, Sirens Call Ezine, Every Day Fiction, Fiction365, Twilight Times Ezine, and in anthologies Journals of Horror: Found FictionMystery Time, and Human Writes Literary Journal.
She is a freelance copy editor and writes a weekly short story blog, Reading Fiction, Tales of Terror at paulacappa.wordpress.com. Paula Cappa is Co-Chair of the Pound Ridge Authors Society in Pound Ridge, NY.

Special mention goes to the songs of the beluga whales in the White Sea, especially “Beluga Whale Music” by David Rothenberg (Thousand Mile Song). Hours of listening to these songs influenced my thoughts and creativity as I wrote Greylock‌—‌ and after many weeks’ listening to their lovely voices, I thought I might grow my own blowhole. Alas, I did not.

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