Reviews for The Things in Heaven and Earth:
TITLE: THE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH
AUTHOR: Michael Scott Hopkins
THE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH puts a major skeptic, Nash Baxter, into the heart of a supernatural case. The motorcycle-riding cynic must confront the truth about Hell, ghosts, and the not-so-dearly departed while simultaneously fighting off a beautiful woman who is not what she seems.
Nash Baxter is a rough and rugged James Bond. He even talks like Bond. In one scene, while ordering food in a small and nearly empty Illinois town, Nash introduces himself to a waitress named Carol by cooing, “Nash. Nash Baxter.” This tough-guy introduction is the best indication of what is in store for the readers of this novel.
Michael Scott Hopkins’ THE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH combines the supernatural with two-fisted action. Baxter is a motorcycle-riding and freelance ghost hunter who has made a career out of debunking the paranormal. Baxter is the heart and soul of this book, and what a tortured soul he is. A foul-mouthed man with a bad habit of lying, he has built his business on selling something that he does not believe, namely that most ghosts and hauntings are not real. Baxter is a believable and believably rough-hewn ghost hunter who speaks in the patois of working class America. The other characters in the novel are similarly well-drawn, from working stiff police officers to the classic femme fatale Evelyn Blankenship.
This book never slows down for a minute. The action starts right away with the simple implication that people are out to get Baxter. Next, after some exposition about his background and internal conflict, Baxter’s relationship with Evelyn opens up the possibility that ghosts, goblins, and ghouls are not what we think they are. The same goes for Hell—that fiery pit were the damned lie forever. Baxter’s journey of uncomfortable discovery is mirrored by the reader, who is forced along for the infernal thrill ride. The world is painted black in THE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH, and yet the novel has a surprisingly heart-warming ending that is nothing less than unexpected.
Without question the best aspects of this novel are Baxter and the portrayal of the ever-popular culture of ghost hunting. Baxter is a great everyman character with more than a passing whiff of the charlatan. This is a good summation of the ghost hunting world itself, and both are exposed and tentatively celebrated in this fun novel.
IR Verdict: THE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH is a thrill ride of a mystery novel–a slug and shot of testosterone that works eminently well with its spooky plot concerning a demonic threat to the world at large.
Author Jeffrey James Higgins’ Review
“The Things in Heaven and Earth” is a riveting metaphysical romp with a literary flair. Nash Baxter is a writer with a dark past who travels the country on his motorcycle and finds ghosts and demons at every turn. Evil forces make him commit atrocities, yet he is also able to free spirits from their demon captors. Nash can’t understand what is happening to him, until he meets Evelyn Blankenship and is drawn into a battle between good and evil with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
In his debut, Author Michael Hopkins creates a vivid, captivating, and horrifying world, but the reader can’t wait to see what happens next. Hopkins adds layer upon layer of philosophy, religion, and life and death stakes. Hopkins grabs the reader from the beginning and does not let go. Each time a question is answered, another mystery takes its place. The tension mounts as Nash Baxter navigates loyalty, love, and death along his terrifying journey.
Hopkins’ imagination is a dark and fascinating place. In “The Things in Heaven and Earth” he has created a world of sin and salvation. This electrifying thriller explores existence, morality, and the meaning of life. It’s a story of ghosts and demons, good and evil, unnatural alliances, and second chances. It’s a story of redemption. Hopkins keeps you enthralled and guessing until the end. Hopkins’ writing is beautiful, philosophical, and fast paced—the literary trifecta. “The Things in Heaven and Earth” is a stunning supernatural masterpiece, and the ending will blow you away.
Author Gojan Nikolich’s Review
On its polished surface, this is a well-paced tale that strays with intelligence from what’s said on the book’s backside blurb about a famous ghost-debunker who investigates hauntings. Thankfully, things are not as simple as that.
Like it’s namesake title taken from Hamlet’s famous chat about ghosts with Horatio, this gruesomely entertaining joy ride into the supernatural asks us to acknowledge the limits of rational thinking and reason. What you see isn’t always what you get. Once you submit to this idea and slide down Michael Hopkins’ spooky glory hole, this fictional journey truly becomes multi-layered and can be enjoyed as a pure horror thriller or as a clever philosophical mashup of Steven King and suspense writer John D. MacDonald, only with bigger and better words.
Instead of the hard-boiled Travis McGee investigating bad guys from a Florida houseboat, here you have an outlier sleuth named Nash Baxter doing the same from the seat of a Harley-Davidson.
Baxter’s plight and battle with himself is quickly foreshadowed in the book’s brief’s prelude: “Those who seek the source of sorrow need look no further than where I stand. It grieves me to be this thing, yet here I am.”
Is this a thriller or a seek-and-destroy parable about an introspective investigator in a biker do-rag who searches for dangerous spirits? It’s actually both.
Without revealing spoilers, the novels straddles an eerie netherworld world where all is not what it seems and characters assume parallel identities that drive the story’s narrative. There’s enough subtext here about the inner workings of human good and evil to warrant a twice-reading of certain pages and Hopkins is a good enough writer to pull off such an ambitious storyline.
There’s much to like about the book’s complex lead character, the darkly flawed paranormal investigator Nash Baxter, who travels cross-country astride his motorcycle battling Beelzebub and a cast of evil minions — some of whom rise up from the unlikely landscape of a humid Midwest cornfield like CGI apparitions in a blockbuster Netflix movie:
“…the image of demonic creatures found in old books, winged and hooved…upon legs articulated backwards at the knobby knees.”
Baxter, who himself has more than a few emotional and psychological kinks to work out, is the perfect foil for the evil spirits who try to manipulate his mind and body and they becomes more human as the storyline develops.
There are few wasted words in this nicely constructed novel. The writing is tight and the believable dialog, with its glib humor, is tighter. Hopkins’ disarming and casual prose seems effortless as he struggles with a cast of supernatural enemies whom we never quite know are real or just imaginary creatures sent to make mischief as Baxter struggles with the meaning of good and evil. The main character, the reluctant recipient of supernatural and telepathic powers, has more lives than a cat as he shares his ongoing inner dialog while trying to solve the puzzle of having been possessed by a persistent evil that seeks to control him.
Like everyone’s favorite Danish prince, this Hamlet never stops trying to answer the big puzzles of life and death, good and evil as well as fate and self-will…all while struggling with a cast of crazy demon shapeshifters who rattle around in his head and sometimes appear in the flesh.
The evil and manipulative nasties in this novel make The Exorcist look like a friendly pizza delivery guy standing at your door.
I recommend giving this author a careful read and I hope he comes up with more of the same very soon.
Gojan Nikolich, author of The Gopher King: A Dark Comedy
Author Kelly Capriotti Burton‘s Review
This novel encompasses the classic battle of good versus evil, but its depiction of that ageless fight is anything but typical. The unique and complicated story of Nash Baxter and the (actual and metaphorical) demons he faces will have you simultaneously scratching your head and quickly turning to the next page to find out what happens next. Don’t be mistaken: this isn’t a candy-and-popcorn thriller. Hopkins’ style is deeply literary and demands an attentive read. There are dueling timelines, double personas, and shifts in reality, all which add up to a richly woven *and* challenging tale.
This cinematic story of a lawyer-turned quasi-ghost-hunter on a Harley has something for everyone… even a romantic such as myself. I do ride a Harley, after all.
Kelly Capriotti Burton, author of The Tentative Knock.