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Mumbai: An unexplained death is a great hook for a psychological thriller.

If the dead one is a little boy and the narrator the father, you can look forward to something new, something interesting.Bad Things gets off to a good start, with the slow-paced narration of the aftermath of the tragedy.

The father, John, has floated into an escapist life as a cafe waiter, while the mother, Carol, is hanging on to the remainder of her sanity as a separated, working mom.

An email draws John back to Black Ridge, the town where their lakeside house -- the scene of his son's sudden death three years ago -- still lies vacant.

He gets drawn into helping a woman who finds herself similarly threatened by something evil.

Only the town itself seems to be strangely fearful and hostile.

And his son's was not the only instance of an inexplicable death.

Do the surrounding forests and Murdo Pond, the lake, hold a primordial evil? The mystery cannot be cracked unless the local power elite, the malevolent Robertsons, are challenged.

But in the process, John and Carol have to face their own pasts -- and the consequences of their own deeds.A typical airport lounge thriller, Bad Things is drawn on the emotional graph of the outwardly good-looking but duplicitous quality of an American suburban dream, where ordinary people emerge as the most potent of villains, and Wiccan practices only feed off the everyday, base instincts.

The only gaping hole in the novel is its climax, which you may find unconvincing.

After 350 pages of building up expectations, and with a very plausible penultimate revelation, the author could have stretched his imagination just a wee bit more.

Pick it up only if you don't mind lame endings.
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