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Vicious Circle by Todd Ritter
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Amazon Digital Services Kindle edition  ISBN/ITEM#: B0060ZNV14
Date: 08 December 2011

Links: Author's Website /

Pilot Bill Higgins reports that he's seen strange crop circles while flying over the quaint town of Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Police Chief Kat Campbell has been called to the farm of Landon Gale. Someone, or something, has destroyed nearly half of his soybean crop. Climbing aboard Sonny Duncan's antique crop duster, Kat also witnesses the same crop circles in Gale's soybean field that were reported by Higgins. Have they been made by aliens or is there a more earthly, sinister explanation?

Todd Ritter's Vicious Circle is a delightful novella that is approximately seventy pages in length. However, it reads more like a cozy rather than one of his gritty, horrifying mysteries such as Death Notice and Bad Moon. Don't expect a vicious serial killer or gory murders. Nevertheless, the mystery is rather engaging and held my interest for a few hours. Vicious Circle takes place less than a year after the Grim Reaper terrorizes the residents of Perry Hollow in Death Notice and prior to the return of Eric Olmstead in Bad Moon.

The highly likeable Kat Campbell does most of the investigative work. She is aided by Deputy Carl Bauersox and her eleven-year-old son, James, who has Down syndrome. Recently, James has developed a morbid fascination for the supernatural; at the library, he helps his mom locate textbooks on UFOs. Nick Donnelly, a former state police detective, makes a brief guest appearance via a telephone call. Determined to solve the mystery of the crop circles, Kat must endure several vicious attacks from those who would prefer she remain lost in a field of ignorance.

Fans of Todd Ritter's novels will enjoy Vicious Circle for providing them with another view of the Twin Peaks-like town of Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania--a town full of peculiar people and bizarre happenings. Vicious Circle is only available in electronic format. I easily downloaded it to the Kindle app on my Apple iPhone 4 and read it while traveling on Thanksgiving vacation. Vicious Circle also provides the prologue and first chapter to Ritter's recently published Bad Moon.

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