I was eagerly anticipating the next offering from Erica Crockett from the moment I finished her stunning debut, Chemicals. Her latest novel, The Ram, is the first volume of The Blood Zodiac series. The series will span twelve books to cover each of the zodiac signs. A series of that magnitude is a daunting challenge that Erica is certainly equipped to meet.
The Ram follows the perspectives of two main characters, Peach and Riley. The intertwining of their perspectives is exhilarating and rewarding. Peach is a troubled counselor at a crossroads in her life. By choice, or by natural force, she is propelled to make changes. The internal struggle is poignant and real. The fear and apprehension is captured wonderfully in Crockett’s precise prose and imagery. Riley, an ex-attorney, is forced to make changes in his life as well. Although his change begins out of necessity, but he embraces it.
Developing characters is truly Erica’s superpower. She crafts them honestly. She doesn’t judge them or sympathize with them or make excuses for them. She delivers them with clarity, their flaws revealed. The supporting cast is equally intriguing. One of my favorites was Sev, a surly bouncer with the heart of a poet. He spends his time watching his girlfriend dance and penning poems on bar napkins. The juxtaposition is sometimes ironic, sometimes comical, but always entertaining.
Erica once again delivers a plot that is packed with delicious mysteries. Lambs released in the city. Symbols painted on the road. Ominous greeting cards. The birthing of a ram. A partial tattoo. A dangerous patient who mouths a cigarette, but never smokes. A stripper and her poet boyfriend. All of these are intertwined. By chance? By design? Destiny? So much to ponder.
Erica also continues to deliver beautifully crafted prose that could make any writer jealous:
- “Riley lies back on the concrete floor and watches the chains sway overhead, a solitary link bent and open, jangling and dancing, apart from all the rest.”
- “She hopes the process will be invigorating, completed with aplomb, and then she will take her time getting home, simmering in the spectacular events of the evening.”
- “Peach is speechless and not just metaphorically.”
- “It is fate, meaningful in its synchronicity. Peach does not believe in coincidence anyway. Her world is one of omens and relationships, energy and connections. Causes will always have effects, but those two things can be separated by vast amounts of time and space.”
- “You never know when you’ll get trampled by misplaced sheep or incinerated in a vehicle.”
- “He shoots his arms straight into the air, clenches his fists at nothing but holds on tightly, until his nails put little crescent moons into his flesh.”
Bottom line: The Blood Zodiac is an enigma wrought with suspense; it begins in spectacular fashion with The Ram. This thriller is most highly recommended.