Reviews Of Dan's Work

A mind-bending thriller where the hunt for justice is both physical and supernatural

The Troll Hunters begins with the Hunter of Men not being accepted into the collective minds of heaven or hell. Instead, he is banished to an in-between place—a walking wraith.

A god that is not his, Baron Samedi, makes an irresistible offer to the Hunter: "I can make you a god over any man alive.” The trade-off is that he must obtain souls for Samedi's third collective mind, another new collective mind like that of heaven or hell, but under Baron Samedi's complete control. The Hunter agrees to Samedi’s offer with mutiny in his mind and is unleashed into the world using computers and electric energy as his conduit.

As the Hunter of Men hunts for souls, there are men hunting for trolls—internet trolls. Daniel Navarro and Tyler Hansen, two highly skilled computer programmers, became unlikely friends at their Catholic high school. Danny was often picked on by his peers, and one day it led to him becoming paralyzed. Tyler's dad was an abusive alcoholic; his mother was an addict, and they both died by the time Tyler reached adulthood. Two broken young men lean on each other and embrace their business idea of hunting down internet trolls to serve justice.

A significant part of the story also revolves around the right-wing presidential candidate, Francis Ulysses Trust, a self-made billionaire. The amount of social commentary that Rehm is able to pepper around this fictional character helps ground the story by providing a third lens. "The grassy knoll, the moon landings, crashed flying saucers, and most recently, stolen elections. Part of the recipe for a solid theory is the ever-looming question of authenticity." The Troll Hunters is rooted in society through the powers of the paranormal, keyboard warriors, and political scandal. The familiarity with our own reality allows the reader to become more
emotionally invested during the more fantastical parts of the story.

There are some parts of the story that require closer attention to the narrative. Rehm occasionally uses some flowery language that makes the story a bit harder to follow. The beginning of the book can feel vague and cryptic, but once you adjust to theamount of metaphors being utilized, it becomes a fun read.

The Troll Hunters brings together the power of the supernatural and the power-hungry political landscape of today into a thought-provoking reflection of today's society. It is easy to relate to the characters and their problems based on what we all see and interact with on a daily basis, even if the problems are metaphysical.

Book Review: Let Flowers Be Flowers
Reviewed by Booklife Reviews by Publishers Weekly

“It’s a perfect place to die,” we’re told of a cabin in the woods early in Rehm’s action-packed psychological thriller. The narrator declaring that is a young man whose mind has been twisted by loss, the feeling of not being loved by his parents, and the certainty that his dead eldest brother is there with him as he seems to discover, in the woods of the Upper Midwest, bodies moldering in a crude structure—bodies he keeps a secret from his indifferent mother and father. Eventually, after a novella’s worth of tense and unsettling buildup, fresh tragedy burns through those woods. From the ashes a new narrative takes over, the perspective shifting between first and third person, as a hunter with “blue emotionless eyes” stalks game hunters during Western Wisconsin’s deer hunting season, and a game warden tries to make sense of it all as the bodies pile up.

Rehm (The Adventures of Philippine Maximine, P.I. ) writes a fast-moving, expectations-defying plot that will grip thriller readers open to immersing themselves in the minds of damaged men. The daring first section leaves us to guess whether we can trust a narrator who boasts about lacking empathy and tells the tale with a cruel poetry—hitting a man with a rock sounds “like stepping on a crayfish.” Later, the new characters are complex and not much more likable, with Rehm not tipping his hand about who to root for in the extended, convincing cat-and-mouse game that follows.

Rehm puts more trust in readers than many thriller authors, and at times the narrative can seem challenging. But Let Flowers Be Flowers plays fair, especially when it comes to the realities of hunting and forests, and patient readers with the stomach for the killing—and a love for sentences like “There is nothing like a human scream to break the silence of the forest”—will find this harrowing and satisfying.

Takeaway: Nothing is as it seems in this character-driven psychological thriller of hunters and hunted.

Great for fans of: Jack Carr’s Savage Son, Laird Hunt’s In the House in the Dark of the Woods.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

Print Date: 01/02/2023

Book Review: Let Flowers Be Flowers
Reviewed by Kirkus

In this thriller, a decidedly unbalanced hunter stalks human prey in Wisconsin forests. Mason Owens; his little brother, Paul; and their friends load up for their yearly deer hunt. They’ve got acres of the Owens family land to track the animals for as long as “gun season” allows. But tragedy strikes; one of the men dies in an apparent suicide. While they have trouble believing their friend killed himself, the hunt goes on—and only gets worse. Locals are shocked to learn that the friends, it seems, turned their guns on one another. Readers know that a man called The Hunter is the likely culprit. He’s a coldblooded killer living in a remote cabin near the Owenses’ land, and he had eyes on the hunting party since they set up camp. Meanwhile, game warden Ross Parent launches an investigation that ultimately takes him to Minnesota, where his hunt for a proficient killer becomes a fight for survival. Rehm’s novel feels like a collection of three novellas. It first introduces a dispassionate boy who learns to take lives, shifts perspective to Mason’s hunting party, and then zeroes in on Ross’ investigation. The Hunter’s opening origin is effectively disturbing, and his terrifying presence pervades the novel. Mason’s story, however, isn’t as strong; these graceless deer hunters won’t earn much sympathy, ranging from a drunk to a convicted wife abuser. Nevertheless, the forests, where most of the book takes place, practically cover the pages in vibrant scenery. This setting, even if it’s a killer’s playground, truly shines: “The woods grew dark here, buried in the shadow of rock under a canopy of ancient white pine.” The final act provides an unforgettable closing scene. A dark, uneven character study of a twisted mind.

Book Review: Let Flowers Be Flowers
Reviewed by Timothy Thomas, Independent Book Review

A multi-threaded novel that places you in the mind of a killer and dares you to question their motives in light of their trauma Like the first drop of cold water to a parched throat, this novel’s dark and introspective opener is at first shocking—featuring a child’s inner musings on violence and death—but it eerily sets the tone for what is to come. Author Daniel Rehm’s thriller is an examination of the consequences surrounding neglect and trauma in childhood that, unprocessed, can bring out the worst in people. It’s a question of whether unacknowledged inner demons will all become outer demons. Let Flowers Be Flowers is largely told in 3 parts, the first of which has the aforementioned child as its subject. Unnamed, the child’s life is conveyed via stream of consciousness, detailing his family’s dysfunction and the isolation he experiences that results in the adoption of abnormal and, sometimes, dangerous coping methods. After a revealing and unpredictable climax (you’ll know it when you get there), the story leaves childhood behind and introduces a group of recreational bow hunters who encounter tragedy upon their annual hunting trip. Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by another inhabitant of the forest known simply as the Hunter, whose actions attract national interest and, more importantly, that of the local game warden, who decides to take a vacation following federal intervention in the case. In the final portion of the story, the warden’s journey is told parallel to the Hunter’s; their paths finally cross, leading to a twisting revelatory conclusion. This book can be summarized as conceptually appealing and bewildering, respectively. Here’s what I mean. The overall plot of the story is intriguing, and in its finest moments are captivating and startling. Straightforward in its approach to the more sinister aspects of its story without appeals to the supernatural, Let Flowers Be Flowers’s willingness to explore the darkness in humanity and the ways malicious behavior as internally justified is one of its greatest strengths. Placing the reader directly in the mind of the various characters helps to convey this by grounding their actions in their respective experiences. This last point is also partially responsible for the story’s more bewildering elements. In the story that focuses on the hunting party, the perspective jumps between characters so often that it can take away from some of the immersion of the story, even adversely affecting the pacing at times. Some points of the larger story seem somewhat disconnected too, as there can be few or no links between them. For example, we’re left curious of what happened to the child who had been the focal point of the first part of the story (though reasonable assumptions can be made regarding his fate). Those components are far from being a dealbreaker though. I’d be glad to recommend this book to its audience. Casual and avid thriller fans will find plenty to enjoy in Let Flowers Be Flowers.

Book Review: The Adventures of Philippine Maximine, P.I.
Reviewed by Jaylynn Korrell, Independent Book Review

A wild adventure taking you places you never thought you’d go

The latest novel by Daniel Rehm, The Adventures of Philippine Maximine, P.I., combines a satisfying mix of crime, witchcraft, murder, mystery, and a heaping handful of bizarre events. Told in four parts that each take up a quarter of the book, this book won’t have any trouble keeping you interested. In fact, you’ll probably struggle to put it down.

When Philippine Maximine agrees to take on a private investigating case deep in northern back country, she doesn’t really know what she’s getting into. A Louisiana woman with no fear of saying exactly what she’s thinking, Philippine makes sure to make her presence known wherever she goes, and isn’t afraid to pull out her pistol at a moment's notice.

But she is a fish out of water in this new environment. Her outspoken nature is exactly the thing that creates sticky situations, and it doesn’t take long for trouble to start finding her after she takes this job.

While this northern back country job is the first case she takes on in this book, it sure isn’t the last. Her tasks continue to increase as she hunts down cheating spouses, runs from murderous gardeners, adopts a cat, escapes a near death in the woods, and more. Readers even dive deep into her magical childhood in the South. Author Daniel Rehm packs a lot into this novel, and while it may seem like a smorgasbord of random events, they all flow together nicely.

When I started this book, I didn’t know what to expect. I love P.I. mysteries, and I felt ready for whatever kind of adventures the title was teasing me about, but I had no idea just how crazy this story was about to get. It took me only a few dozen pages for me to be completely enthralled in the mystery.

In part one, Philippine is galavanting in the woods trying to stay alive. In part two, she’s back in the city tracking millionaires who are trying to get away with cheating on their spouses. And this is all happening while Philippine herself is being hunted by a mysterious assassin.

Part three picks up in an entirely different setting, the local mall, where a couple of employees have recently gone missing. In this section of the story, we’re introduced to some magical aspects that carry us into the final part of the book where Philippine’s Creole past is unearthed. Each of the four parts of this story can stand entirely on their own, and yet they discreetly weave their way in and out of each other. Rehm’s attention to detail and wild creativity shines.

What stands out the most here is Rehm’s ability to create a cohesive story while also telling separate stories. For a book that’s just over 350 pages long, each chapter is essential to the overall story as well as the separate smaller story. There are no wasted moments.

Big twists and turns happen often because of the way the stories are broken up. Instead of one climax around 80% into the book, we get multiple—and some even as soon as 20%. This structure demands our attention, giving us a fun and worthwhile challenge to take on.

Book lovers of all interests will find something to like about The Adventures of Philippine Maximine, P.I. It’s thrilling, mysterious, scary, crime-filled, action packed, and even funny at times. You’ll appreciate Rehm’s masterful attention to detail while you fall in love with his characters. I can see myself rereading this book and catching the little things I might have missed that draw even more connection between each part of the book. If you’re looking for a book with a great female lead and endless mystery, do I have the book for you.

Daniel Rehm