“Where They Wait” tells the terrifying story of an app that kills

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You don’t want to read this book on your phone.

After reading it, you might not even want to turn on your phone.

But can you really turn it off?

Where they wait is Scott Carson’s second shocking horror novel, following his 2020 spooky ghost story Cold.

Related: Read a review of “The Chill”.

Both books feature a polish and craftsmanship that suggests a more seasoned author, which makes sense – Scott Carson is the pen name of award-winning detective story writer Michael Koryta. Under the name Koryta, he published 16 detective novels and thrillers, including Those who want my death, which was adapted into a movie, starring Angelina Jolie, which was released this year.

A number of Koryta’s novels, such as So cold the river and all of Florida The Cypress House, had supernatural elements. But in Carson’s books, he leaps into the depths of the horror genre.

The first thing the narrator of his new book, Nick Bishop, tells us is, “I was never a dreamer. He is not talking about his attitude towards life; he’s literal – he doesn’t dream, he never did. For him, sleep is “dark”, and that’s good. As a die-hard journalist who has, among other things, been integrated with American troops in Afghanistan, he has enough nightmares awake.

Koryta, who was part of the faculty of the Writers in Paradise program at Eckerd College and lived in St. Petersburg for several years, begins Nick’s story in Tampa, where he was just fired by the newspaper for which he works.

With some free time and nothing to do but job hunting, Nick heads north to the fictional small town of Hammel, Maine. He lived there for several years while in high school and college, because his mother, Alice Bishop, taught at Hammel College, “one of those beautiful liberal arts schools in New England.” that have been around long enough to justify the tuition fees. rate with a straight face.

They moved there after Nick’s father died in a car crash, hitting a patch of ice as he rushed to the airport.

Alice Bishop is still in Hammel. Once “one of the country’s foremost scholars in memory research,” she suffered a stroke while hiking alone, fell off the trail and was not discovered for hours. Now she’s in an assisted living facility, happily watching the birds in the garden but not having much to say except “Grackles”.

Nick wants to hang out with her, and there’s another temptation: one of his former college buddies, Pat Ryan, has stayed on to work in public relations for the school and offers Nick a freelance job for write a profile of a former Hammel student who is about to publish a hot new app. It will be a bit of a whiff, but the pay is good. Plus, Nick’s family still owns Rosewater, a lakeside cabin near town, where he can stay while he sorts his life.

He arrives in Rosewater in the evening, just in time to have a beer, listen to the loons call, and have a chat with longtime and grumpy neighbor Bob Beauchamp. Nick barely has time to make his bed before receiving a cheerful text from “Renee at Clarity Inc”. confirming that he will be coming to speak to the former student the next morning.

Nick had planned to check in with Pat and his mother and then start working on the story in a few days, but he agrees, despite the security measures outlined in the text: no recorder, no phone.

The surprises begin when he arrives at Hefron’s Old Mill, which he remembers as one of those crumbling industrial hulks to be found in every other New England town. It’s been transformed into Clarity’s sleek, landscaped office complex, and Nick wonders where the money is coming from, given that the company’s mindfulness app hasn’t even been released.

“A reporter with a question is a happy human being,” Nick tells us, and there are more questions to come. The Renee who texted turns out to be Renee Holland, “my first real friend in Hammel.” He had a teenage crush, she was smart and was two years older, but they bonded around music and running.

They lost sight of each other, so he’s delighted to see her. She is warm (except to confiscate his phone and put it in a safe), but pushes him upstairs to meet the boss. Bryce Lermond “wore faded jeans and a fleece vest over a long-sleeved t-shirt, as if he’d been torn between hiking the Appalachian Trail and creating a tech start-up.”

Nick’s interview with him goes well until Bryce cuts him off.

“You don’t buy it, do you?” He said, noting Nick’s skepticism about the app. As the conversation grows more tense, Nick becomes curious: why does Bryce want him to be a believer so much? But somehow by the time he leaves he has agreed to be a beta tester for the app – even though he’s not qualified, as the purpose of the app is to shaping the user’s dreams.

What sets Clarity apart from other mindfulness apps, says Bryce, are its “songs to sleep,” which affect the brain’s response to the story and the song. As Nick exits the Clarity building, he looks at the app icon, already installed on his phone, “the black and red waving C”. And his nose starts to bleed.

Things are going to get so much worse. Nick will start dreaming, dreams full of pleading ghosts drenched in rain and crashing waves. In the waking world, secrets will emerge, some about the people he loves. And he will have to face the terrifying question of whether advanced technology can become a conduit for ancient evil.

Have you ever watched horror movies and yelled at the screen, “Don’t come in! ” Where they wait I wanted to yell at Nick, “Throw that phone away!” But we never do, do we?

Blanket Where They Wait [ Atria Books ]

Where they wait

By Scott Carson

Atria / Emily Bestler Books, 400 pages, $ 27

Reading Festival hours

Scott Carson (Michael Koryta’s pen name) will be a featured author at the Tampa Bay Times Virtual Reading Festival. He will be in conversation with Times editor-in-chief Colette Bancroft at 2 p.m. on November 13. The event is free, but registration is required on festivalofreading.com.


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