Written by: Tim Meyer
There are few novels out there that attempt to blend multiple genres together, and the few that try, usually end up getting it wrong. Tom Joyce’s debut novel The Freak Foundation Operative’s Report is one that tries, and—for the most part—succeeds.
The town of Batley is under siege by a masked organization calling themselves “The Slain”. These hooligans start attacking various social events and generate terror within a town that has seen its fair share of supernatural shitstorms. Investigating the madness, is an unnamed investigator who spends the length of the tale trying to piece together a very intricately-woven conspiracy.
As the title suggests, the story is mostly told through the operative’s case files. Each chapter represents a different file, and as the case unfolds, the reader is rewarded with plot twists you don’t really see coming. Incorporated into the files are accounts from other characters whose stories relate directly to what is happening in Batley.
Joyce’s novel blends several genres together. While I might not exactly classify The Freak Foundation under horror, its supernatural spin definitely leans toward something that could be considered an urban-fantasy story. It borrows elements from the mystery-thriller genre. But overall, it seems the book is intended to be a hard-boiled detective story, one that delivers very well. Its humorous flavor and wise-cracking characters also bring a comedic element only few writers could pull off successfully, and I personally think Joyce has done just that.
The book’s only major flaw, and this is only a personal complaint that might only bother few, is that the story seems to change first-person narratives frequently. You really have to pay attention so you don’t miss something that might be detrimental to your reading experience. And do pay attention, because this book deserves it.
Also, I didn’t care for the occasional “Author Notes” that were planted in the middle of pages. At times, it became distracting and often derailed the flow of the story. But other than that, Joyce’s writing is smooth and pleasant. Refreshing. Different from your typical supernatural-detective story, and in the best way.
Overall, check this book out. It’s worth a read. It’s got everything you could want from a horror/mystery/detective novel, complex and satisfying. Tom Joyce’s debut novel is something to celebrate, and I’m eager to see where he takes his work in the future.