Come With Me
by Ronald Malfi
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Pub Date 20 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 20 Jul 2021
"Malfi is a modern-day Algernon Blackwood... I'm gonna be talking about this book for years"
JOSH MALERMAN, author of Bird Box
Aaron Decker's life changes one December morning when his wife Allison is killed. Haunted by her absence—and her ghost—Aaron goes through her belongings, where he finds a receipt for a motel room in another part of the country. Piloted by grief and an increasing sense of curiosity, Aaron embarks on a journey to discover what Allison had been doing in the weeks prior to her death.
Yet Aaron is unprepared to discover the dark secrets Allison kept, the death and horror that make up the tapestry of her hidden life. And with each dark secret revealed, Aaron becomes more and more consumed by his obsession to learn the terrifying truth about the woman who had been his wife, even if it puts his own life at risk.
"I'm gonna be talking about this book for years." Josh Malerman
"This is what it is to be transported: you might think you're on solid ground, but Come with Me is a story that will carry you, inescapably, into the uncanny, the horrific." Andrew Pyper, author of The Residence
“An exploration into grief, and into the dark secrets within a seemingly perfect marriage. Part mystery, part ghost story, Come with Me chimes with rare beauty and page-turning brilliance. I surrendered to it completely.” Rio Youers, author of Lola on Fire
"A must-read for fans of Stephen King. Come with Me is so damn good, truly chilling and suspenseful, yet also hauntingly nuanced" Christopher Golden, author of Ararat
"Come with Me is Malfi's masterwork – a haunting, heartbreaking novel about grief and secrets. Utterly engrossing and terrifying. Highly recommended!" Brian Keene, author of The Rising
"Shines as both a nightmare journey of shadows and secrets, and a poignant testimony to love and loss. I read it in a single day because I had no other choice: it’s that damn good.” Richard Chizmar, author of Gwendy's Button Box
"Malfi impresses in this taut, supernaturally tinged mystery... and sticks the landing with a powerful denouement. There’s plenty here to enjoy." Publishers Weekly
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 87 members
Wow this was so good! I was on the edge of my seat from the start reading this book! Such a page turner. Can not wait for more by this author.
Thanks to the publisher and and NetGalley for allowing me to read this creepy read!
I’m a huge fan of Ronald Malfi. I’ve read (just counted) 15 of his books, which may not be all of them but is certainly an overwhelming majority, from his earliest amateurish stabs at fiction to the awesome scary epics he’s matured into. So when Malfi says Come With Me I do. No map, no questions asked.
Which is to say that having found his latest novel on Netgalley, I requested it immediately and read it as soon as approved, no plot summary, no page count, pure trust. And sure enough, it paid off. Mostly.
For how prevalent literary fights have featured in Malfi’s latest work, with this book he decided to revisit his thriller writing days, flex those muscles, test those waters. So genre wise the book is basically a serial killer thriller with supernatural undertones thrown in. The plot goes something like this…
Aaron Decker is a haunted man. Aaron’s comfortable life was brutally changed one day when his wife Allison was randomly gunned down by a crazed shooter at a mall (the most American of scenarios and most tragically inspired by a real life story death of the author’s friend). Now he’s become unmoored, unanchored and in his grief he goes over some of his late wife’s things and finds a side of her he didn’t know existed. Sure, she was always reticent to talk about her past, but he figured that was due to all the tragedies she left behind, a death of her father, a death of her sister. But turns out there was more, so much more. Turns out his late wife’s sister was actually murdered and Allison has spent years investigating that and other similar deaths. Evidence suggests a serial killer. And now Aaron finds himself compelled to take over where Allison left off, to follow the thread no matter what darkness it’ll lead to. It begins as the only way to understand Allison, to be close to her once again…but soon enough it turns terrifyingly real.
So there you go. An excellent dark psychological suspense thriller from a genre hopping master of literary scares. The ghostly ambiance throughout blends in smoothly with the very credible murder investigation straight down to the prerequisite (and unexpected) final plot twist. A combination sure to delight fans of both supernatural and murderously natural genres.
I said mostly earlier and that’s because at time (and really just that, only at times) the book seemed lightly overwritten and it used the title excessively in some many ways. But these are really very minor things, comparing to the most excellent sum total. Malfi’s writing is excellent in the way that it plays out (for me, anyway) cinematically, I find his words projecting a movie onto the screen of my mind. Such as his vivid imagery, the atmospheric darkness pervading this story, the eerie small towns shrouded in sadness, desperation and nightmares. Really, really good, completely immersive, profoundly engaging reading experience. Read in the dark if possible, but either way…read this book. It’s exciting, disturbing and hugely entertaining. This is a trip well worth taking. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
This review is for an ARC copy received from the publisher through NetGalley.
There is a small handful of authors who I sometimes forget just what wonderful writers they are until I begin reading another of their books, and Ronald Malfi is one of them. Just when I thought he couldn't get any better at writing than he already has, he puts out Come With Me. If he hasn't done so already, with this book he proves to be an absolute master wordsmith.
In Come With Me, Malfi merges the depths of grief he explored in The Ascent with the finely layered mystery he wove in December Park. The tale is told by Aaron Decker, a man swallowed by misery from the untimely death of his wife, Allison, in a narrative directed at her, or possibly her ghost. After Allison, a reporter for a small town paper, tragically dies, Aaron discovers she was keeping secrets from him. What at first appears to possibly be infidelity soon proves to be extensive research into a series of seemingly unrelated but similar deaths - a story way beyond the purview of her daily job. As he copes with grief, Aaron begins following up on Allison's research and realizes she may have been on the track of a serial killer.
This book kept me riveted right from the start, eagerly yet hesitantly moving forward, both wanting to know what happens next while at the same time dreading it. The story is a perfectly paced mystery with hints of the paranormal, and while it may have you yelling at the protagonist at times for his poor decisions, will ultimately make you not want to stop reading until you've finished the last page.
The title, has instantly attracted me, I felt the urge to turn the pages and uncover the mystery. This was a feel good book for me.
Oh man, this was good. Having only read one previous novel by Malfi, Bone White(which I loved) I was really hoping this would keep up the standard and boy does it and some.
Aaron Deckers life is turned upside down when his wife is killed in a mass shooting at a mall.
Consumed with grief and haunted by his wife(literally?) when eventually going through her belongings he finds a receipt for 2 nights in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. It has her name on it and was when he was away on business. The nights she said she was at home.
Confused by this and fearing his wife may have been having an affair, he begins to investigate and visits the small town where the hotel is. He slowly finds that his wife has a lot more secrets she kept as she led an alternative life, secret from him.
That’s as much as I’d say about the story. I went in blind having got the book on the authors name alone.
This one really delivers and has a same vibe as Bone White. It’s hard to pinpoint a genre for this. A whodunnit, mystery, thriller, supernatural story, a story of grief, a story of the mind, a story of time.
The story is beautifully written and oozes atmosphere from start to finish. Like Bone White this is light on crash bang wallop and goes at its own pace with a constant sense of foreboding.
The supernatural elements are hinted at and blurred with dream states that lets you make up your own mind about them. It’s just all beautifully suggestive and subtle and so satisfying to read.
Of course there is a hell of an interesting story here too and it’s very well told and plotted but, it’s the writing as much as the story that is to be admired.
I really loved this one. I started off giving this four stars but as I recount the story here I’ve changed my mind and upped it to five.
This book I hope gets to more readers than those who read thrillers. There is so much more here.
A fantastic book. Do yourself and get a copy and let it draw you in. You won’t regret it.
Thanks to the publisher for the ARC through Netgalley.
Come With Me is a compulsively readable supernaturally tinged mystery from award-winning horror writer Ronald Malfi in which he explores how grief and longing fan the flames of obsession as a man uncovers his dead wife’s horrifying secrets. Translator Aaron Decker and his wife, Allison, have been married for just over 5 years when the unthinkable comes to pass. In a morning that begins exactly like any other, Allison, a columnist for a local Maryland newspaper, is killed in a mass shooting incident at a shopping mall. Aaron is devastated and descends into a pit of grief and despair unable to comprehend the tragedy, but this is also accompanied by survivor’s guilt as he had politely declined his wife’s request that he go with her on that fateful day. She had apparently died trying to save other people from the madman’s sights and had tried in vain to stop the carnage. A short time after her death, her office shipped a box containing her belongings to Aaron, but it leads to even more confusion and heartache than he was already feeling. He discovers a receipt for a two-night stay at a motel in North Carolina he had no idea about. It had coincided with his weekend stay in New York for business, and this naturally leads him to believe she was likely having an affair.
However, this fear is soon dispelled and he learns the real reason behind her clandestine out-of-state trips. Allison had seemingly been unofficially investigating the suspicious deaths of 6 women whose cases had not yet been connected by the police. Desperate to see exactly what his wife had gotten herself into before she died, Aaron begins to trace her footsteps by following the clues she left behind in her files and finds himself embroiled in a situation far more perilous than he could ever have expected. This is a compulsive and enthralling mix of mystery, thriller and minimal supernatural horror elements all complementing each other to create the perfect blend of danger, palpable tension, dark secrets and deeply emotional moments. It's twisted, pacey and terrifying and a haunting and nuanced exploration of grief with plausible thoughts, feelings and behaviours on display by the bereaved. The mass shooting is handled sensitively and authentically with no sensationalism and the denouement brings it all together to form a powerful conclusion. Immersive, chilling and unique ripped-from-the-headlines horror fiction complete with spectres, devastating secrets within a supposedly content marriage and pure page-turning brilliance. Highly recommended.
Come With Me tells the story of Aaron Decker, a man struggling with the sudden and brutal death of his wife, Allison. Having chosen to stay home one morning when Allison goes shopping he's shocked when he learns that there's been a shooting in the local shopping precinct. Rushing down there he can't find his wife, and has to wait around for hours waiting for any news of her; unfortunately, when that news comes it's devastating. Trapped in the same shop as the shooter, Allison ran at him to try and draw attention away from the people trying to run to safety. Whilst this saved others lives, it cost Allison her own.
Struggling to figure out how to cope with such a tragic moment, Aaron retreats into his work, allowing himself to go onto autopilot as he loses himself in routine. This all changes one day, however, when he finds a receipt in Allison's belongings, a receipt for a motel out of state. Realising that this considered with one of his work trips he begins to question what it could mean. Was Allison away on work? Or was she perhaps having an affair?
Travelling to the motel to try and find answers Aaron comes away without any proof as to what Allison might have been doing there. He's about to give up on ever learning what was going on when he opens the locked trunk in Allison's closet and discovers files full of interviews and reports on a series of murders that have taken place over the last decade. Aaron realises that Allison has been tracking a serial killer in secret, a series of murders that not even the police realise are connected. Wanting to learn more, Aaron decides to carry on what his wife stared.
The blurb for Come With Me really doesn't do this book justice. Yes, it raises the mystery of what Allison was doing in this motel, but I think that by not mentioning the hunt for a serial killer it's really burring the most exciting part of this book. Okay, the relationship between Aaron and Allison is a huge part of the story, and the whole book is written from Aaron's point of view as if he's talking to his wife, but the most exciting part is this hunt for the killer.
The first several chapters of the book take their time in setting everything up, and even though when the book begins Allison has already been killed we get to know her through Aaron's memories of her, so that once he relives the day she died we're already invested in them; and it hurts to see him go through that pain. It's also sad as we watch Aaron searching for answers, beginning to question if perhaps his beloved wife was cheating on him; betraying him in the worst way possible. Getting to be inside his thought process we see how much it affects him, how the doubts begin to creep in and alter his perception of everything.
Malfi made a genius choice in presenting the book the way he does. This isn't a narrator talking to some random reader, it's a man in mourning talking to is departed wife. It makes everything he's going through feel so much more powerful. He's not just wondering if his wife cheated on him, he's opening up to her about what that possibility means to him. Aaron pours his everything into the narration of this book, and it feels incredibly personal, like we're looking in on something we shouldn't be.
We also get to see a lot of development in Aaron over the course of the book, and his search for the answers to the central mystery change him a lot. He goes from a man who'd never think to look into something like this to a man who's questioning everything he sees, unsure who to trust, but willing to walk into danger to find the answers he seeks. With so much of the story being focused on the hunt for this killer it's impressive how much time we spend with the characters too, and how well developed everyone feels.
There are a lot of spooky moments in the book too, times where you're not sure what's going on. Like Aaron you begin to wonder is Allison might still be around in some way, whether her spirit is watching over her husband, leading him along this journey as tiny little things that are just out of the ordinary seem to happen. The inclusion of these moments definitely change the narrative somewhat, and you're often left wondering if perhaps Aaron is losing him grip on reality a bit due to his grief and growing obsession with the case.
I honestly had a ton of fun with Come With Me, even if it's not the most uplifting book to read. It deals with grief, depression, and obsession in frank and honest ways; as well as throwing in a genuinely engaging mystery that will have you reading long after you know you should put the book down for a bit. Whether you're coming to the book hoping for a good character driven drama, or an interesting mystery thriller Come With Me will keep you hooked right up until the end.
Come with me - Review
What an absolutely fantastic mystery thriller this was to read. Also, as a bonus, with just enough of a supernatural twist to satisfy any horror lover.
From the moment I started the first chapter until right up to the end, I was just captivated. This novel was truly unputdownable. If I had more time to read in the day, I would have easily finished this in one to two sittings.
Loved the storyline, loved the protagonist and the journey he took me on and love, love, loved those nail-biting final chapters! Did not love that final ending too much though, but it did make a lot of sense. Ties the whole novel neatly together with one vital and common thread (which you only recognize until the very end) running through the whole book.
Come with Me is an excellent example of why I adore Ronald Malfi so much as an author. He has a fabulous writing style that does not intimidate nor bore you to death. You are always kept on your toes. I have a couple of his novels in my bookshelves, but this one, by far, outshines the rest (in my opinion anyway).
It was such a privilege to read his latest novel and I would just like to thank NetGalley and Titan Books for giving me this opportunity.
I am truly excited for this latest novel. Not only because I cannot fault it on any level (and I am a rather picky reader) but also because it seems that Malfi’s only getting better with time. He is already great, just imagine what we’ll have 20 years’ from now. Exciting? I Think so yes!
Somebody should give this man a medal because I give Come with Me 10/10 and it will come highly recommended by me.
A true Malfi fangirl
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