Good modern mystery stories are sometimes hard to come by, at least for me. I grew up cutting my teeth on the Hitchcock collections of old and my expectations are high, but I tend to shy away from the genre these days. I admit that I simply don’t give mystery novels nearly as much of my attention as horror, although I sometimes stumble across a fun, amusing, and energetic work that mixes both horror and mystery and allows for an entertaining, thoughtful, and suspenseful ride. Mix in some forbidden romance, supernatural killings, ancient mythology, and strong characters, and you’ve got my attention. Kudos to E. F. Watkins for “Paragon,” a novel published by Amber Quill Press in 2005, who manages to entertain with her intelligent 244-page romp.
Meet Louise (“Lu”) Bauer, a successful albeit socially withdrawn “Art Director” of an advertising firm who has exiled herself in the ways of love due to her self-proclaimed homeliness. Lu stumbles one night across a mysterious ancient woman being harassed by local hooligans and saves her life, for the which the old woman bestows upon her a special love gift with a few precautionary warnings. Soon after, Lu meets the perfect man, a man that existed only previously in Lu’s creative imagination. Handsome, sophisticated, and witty, the young Eric Troy delivers the physical and emotional love that Lu has longed for. Yet, sinister happenings seem to undergo anyone who threatens Eric’s position as a rising and unusually talented actor, and thus Watkins spins a tale of love, betrayal, and suspense as Lu succumbs to the mysterious forces surrounding her love for her “Paragon” of man.
Watkins skillfully mixes romance and mystery into a compelling and thought-provoking story. I enjoy authors who have done their research and are able to blend their knowledge without cramming it down the reader’s throat. While “Paragon” may as easily be called a supernatural romance, there are enough nasty surprises to keep even the hard-core horror fan guessing and interested.
For more information, feel free to check out the author’s web site at www.efwatkins.com.