Dave Zeltserman’s awesome novel, The Caretaker of Lorne Field, defies the ability to be put into a standard genre and in many ways, defies the ability to be reviewed in a manner that does it justice. This novel has elements of horror, yet it isn’t standard horror. It is suspenseful, tension-filled, and may or may not contain monsters, but in my mind, it doesn’t fit into the horror genre. I can categorize it as a masterpiece, so that may have to suffice as the only label I can put on it.
This book is so hard to review because it is like an onion; it has many layers that you must peel through to get to its heart and to do that in a review is to spoil the manner in which Zeltserman ratchets up the suspense and seems to finally answer the big questions you have, only to suck you back in and have you wondering what is the truth behind the story. Each layer is peeled back slowly for maximum suspense and reader pleasure.
The jist of the story is Jack Durkin has a job in which he would rather not have; he saves the world from being destroyed every day. He does this by weeding Lorne Field from sunrise to sunset. Jack’s family has been doing this thankless chore for nine generations and Native Americans had the task before his family took it upon their shoulders. How does picking weeds save us you ask? Well, the weeds are actually Aukowies, which if left to grow undisturbed, would grow large enough to eviscerate all mankind with their sharp claws.
The beauty of the novel is Zeltserman weaves in the present day. Who would believe this story as real? Well not Jack’s wife, not his oldest son (who will be forced to become the caretaker when he is old enough), and not the town folk who pay Jack an annual salary for his task, not because they want to, but because of an old contract that Jack’s family has in their possession.
With each chapter, the reader will question if jack is delusional, or is this story on the up-and-up. Once you think you have it figured out, WHAM a new chapter flips you on your ass and you're back to square one in determining what the hell is going on. Zeltserman shows he is a craftsman who understands how to build a story and knows what to give a reader and what to hold back. He is a master at work and he will leave you rushing out to get some of his other works.
Dave Zeltserman is one of the best writers around and while this isn’t the typical noir I review, this is a book that should be studied by other writers and devoured by readers. I loved this book.
Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski.