A review of Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) by Karina Halle
Metal Blonde Books, 2011
By REBECCA, May 11, 2012
Perry Palomino: A kick-ass (no, really, she knows martial arts) lady with a lonely heart, a yen for adventure, and a seemingly limitless collection of concert tees
Dex Foray: Mustachioed ghost hunter and all-around delightfully infuriating enigma
Maximus: An old friend of Dex’s who shines some light on Dex’s mysterious past
The Lancasters: Owners of the ranch in Red Fox where Perry and Dex want to film
Bird: Rancher and all-around good guy, Bird is Perry and Dex’s guide to life (and death) in Red Fox
Perry and Dex survived shooting their first episode of Experiment in Terror and are now off to the little town of Red Fox, New Mexico where a Navajo couple are being tormented by scampering animals, a rainfall of stones, and the mutilated corpses of farm animals. Things between Perry and Dex are as . . . tense as ever, and now there is an old friend of Dex’s thrown in the mix. Will he come between them, or make them closer than ever? And why does trouble seem to follow Perry wherever she goes . . . ?
Yay, Perry and Dex are back! So, if you read my review of Darkhouse, the first book in the series, you know that I love Perry and Dex. When I finished Darkhouse, I smashed up against the terrible realization that I would now have to wait a week for the second book to be delivered once I feverishly ordered it. My apartment sounded something like this: “Gaaahooonooo! Idiot! Why didn’t you—gah! Damnit, Rebecca! Damn you, Karina Halle, for making me addicted” followed by a plaintive “mrow” from the cat as I slammed the book down in desperation.
And Red Fox is, I dare say, even better than Darkhouse. The characters are more solidified and their interactions have bigger stakes. Perry has finally been offered a promotion at work, but gets fired when she asks to work part time to accommodate filming the show on the weekends, so she’s feeling a bit fragile and pathetic. Dex is still dating Wine Babe Jenn, but clearly just as taken with our gal Perry as ever. Halle is truly a master of the I-love-you-you-total-infuriating-asshole-I-hate-you dynamic and it’s pure delight. With a healthy helping of terror, of course. The tip to film in Red Fox comes from Dex’s college friend (and former bandmate), Maximus, a tall, strapping, redheaded, flannel-wearing ghost whisperer. Dex and Max have had a falling out, causing tension among the three of them: tension of the hey-there! variety between Maximus and Perry, and the I-know-what-you-did-in-college variety between Maximus and Dex, even as Perry and Dex’s sexual tension grows astronomically.
This all plays out against the exciting backdrop of what Will Lancaster thinks are poltergeists on his ranch in Red Fox. Halle totally evokes the creepiness of the rural, Southwestern setting with its long stretches of dusty road, sudden animal encounters, and treacherous rocky landscape. As it seems clearer and clearer that they are not dealing with poltergeists but with something out of a Navajo mythology, the threats to Perry and Dex come from all sides. But that just means they have to scoot closer together. In bed. Because they have to pretend to be married for the sake of propriety like in that movie Leap Year with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. Just saying.
what was the book’s intention? did it live up to that intention?
Where Darkhouse seeded the notion that maybe, just maybe, Dex is mental and shit is all in his head, Red Fox lets you know he’s mental and that it’s not all in his head. Dude, Red Fox is scary—and it ain’t just the ghosties! One of the things I like the most about this series is the way that Halle weaves together all the different scaries instead of relying only on the supernatural. So, you’ve got your supernatural scary, sure, but then there’s also the fear of loving someone who may not love you back; the fear that people you trust may betray or even kill you; and the terrible garden-variety fear of encountering a bunch of drunks in a bar of an evening. Red Fox is the total package.
“My eyes flickered open. Something had woken me up . . . Then I felt something brush up against my foot . . .
I took a deep breath and slowly turned over.
I felt the life being sucked out of me.
There was an animal sitting at the foot of the bed, just six feet away, on top of my feet . . .
It was a fox. I couldn’t see it clearly but I knew that’s what it was. A fox, about the size of a collie, sitting on its hindquarters, ears creating a pointy silhouette. It looked right at me. Its eyes were a hazel color but they didn’t glow like a normal animal. They locked with mine. It was like looking into the eyes of someone I knew.” (90)
So, I’ve been reading this series like a madwoman, y’all—it is addictive and each book just keeps getting better! When I was reading Darkhouse I was careful: I relegated my reading to daylight hours because I live alone and have super gruesome nightmares anyway, so I didn’t want to totally freak myself out. Then, with Red Fox, I couldn’t make myself stop when it got dark, so I huddled under a really big blanket and made my cat sit with me so I wouldn’t be too scared. By Dead Sky Morning, the third in the series (review coming soon!), I was reading it at 3am during a violent thunderstorm right before I went to bed. And that, my friends, is the spiral of addiction. Cheers.
BONUS! This just in: after you read Red Fox, you can check out Halle’s re-writing of one of the scenes in the book from Dex’s perspective posted here on What the Cat Read!