‘Chasing the Boogeyman’ – Richard Chizmar


Chasing the Boogeyman is, essentially, a work of fiction but it is presented to us in such a way as to plausibly seem like a horrific true story. As a story it is cleverly constructed, and as a concept it was fascinating.

The book is set in the small Maryland town of Edgewood, and is told from the viewpoint of our narrator, the author. He is in his early twenties, about to get married and has returned to his childhood home to save money as he attempts to start his career as a writer. When the body of one of his neighbours, Natasha Gallagher, is found in woodland behind her home people are shocked. However, when further bodies turn up it seems that the town has a serial killer.

People are jumpy. Curfews are brought in, neighbourhood watch groups are set up – sometimes with unexpected results – and the FBI are also on hand.

In such a small town the creeping sense of unease is easy to imagine. Chizmar captures the tension well, showing through the eyes of his somewhat naive self the mechanics (such as he could witness them) of the investigation and the effects of such brutality on a small community. His fascination with the crimes is, perhaps, understandable and I found myself completely absorbed in the way he reports these. The photos were a nice touch to lend authenticity, and it was definitely a plus that Chizmar was aided in his somewhat interfering sleuthing by his friend, aspiring journalist Carly Albright.

From start to finish this was a story that I found hard to put down. I wouldn’t say it was terrifying, but a bit like Bradbury (who is referenced) Chizmar is skilled at creating a mood.

Huge thanks to NetGalley for granting me access to this before publication in exchange for my honest thoughts.