Review by: Jessica Dwyer
By Christopher Alan Broadstone

Puzzleman is a mean, nasty book, filled with mean nasty things. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m just warning you up front.

From Christopher Alan Broadstone, who is also a musician and filmmaker, Puzzleman is dark horror fantasy that would do Clive Barker proud with its mix of sex, death, and stark descriptions of the bad things that happen to the characters within.

The story focuses on Amanda; an artist you can tell is troubled from the first moments you read about her. She’s lost her son and her husband and she’s become snared in the net of the Puzzleman after purchasing an earring that seems to sparkle with an inner light.

Along with Amanda we have Erik, her husband, who is also tied to the Puzzleman’s scheme. Erik’s gotten himself pretty fucked up and he’s trying to beat the Puzzleman at his own game. If it means his ex is going to lose her mind in the process, so be it. It’s not the first thing he’s sacrificed to attain his goal.

Tied to both of these characters is John Rainbow, an ex solider who had fallen in love with a girl in France during the war. John left her behind, but kept in touch. He’s trying to save Erik who was one of his history students. But John needs to save himself from his own sense of loss.

The title character, The Puzzleman, is also known as Conundrum. He wants to be free from his cage, and wants help in doing it. He’s a cosmic pariah, and he wants to feed on all of us. Conundrum brings to mind Freddy Krueger and Pinhead, only if you put them both in a blender with a healthy dose of LSD. He’s a sick bastard, and oozes off the page to coat you in layer of cold goo that you can’t wash off.

This book was a hard read for me. Not because it was a bad story, it surely wasn’t. It was the first book I’ve ever read that made me really queasy. It’s almost too descriptive on some notes, the main one being the repeated use of “fishy cum smell” when explaining the reek of The Puzzleman. Yep, that’ got a bit too real. But after I got past that and decided that was the point Broadstone wanted to make I was fine. He wants you to feel that discomfort, to really get how disgusting this creature is. He pulls this off with flying colors. Unease and disgust run throughout the novel. Conundrum is brought to life with these two feelings in mind.

Broadstone makes a great novel with this first effort. He’s a multitalented artist and I can see many more books in the future from him. He’s got a knack for horror that’s for certain, and for bringing his characters to life on the page. Puzzleman is a great novel
for those that like their horror hot, wet, and juicy.