The soft touch of her hand caressed the back of my neck as I sat upon the bed in the dim light of the evening lamp, a cool breeze coming from the open window, the street noises occasionally echoing in the halls of my room, the dull low rumble of the city layered below. Shivers ran down my spine and the hairs on the back of my head stood up. It was a perfect spring evening with the scent of cross pollination in the air. Budding trees held new shiny leaves just outside the window. She leaned into my naked back and her warmth met mine in perfect contour. She melted into me. I felt the dread of loneliness then. The emptiness of being one, alone, not sharing, no one to care what happens in my world but myself, and sometimes even I don’t care, capitulation being a long tradition running through my life. Scattered pictures of her embrace echoed in the darkness of my dream.
Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Dream State” by Charles R Hinckley.
4 out of 4 stars
When August was almost thirty years of age, he started experiencing intense dreams of people dying. Initially, he merely thought they were nightmares. Then, a dream about the death of a young woman named Emma began repeating. Because they were incredibly vivid and believable, he started looking for the place of her death, discovered it, and later was able to find her. Regrettably, she thought he was creepy and didn’t believe him. Sadly, dreams of her soon stopped because of her murder. This dream was followed by one of a man named Carrillo, who was observed dying from a car accident. August tracked him down; instead of listening and using the information to save himself, Carrillo threatened to injure him. A short time afterward, Carrillo died in the foreseen car accident.
August is tired of no one believing him and being unable to alter the outcome of his dreams. Realizing he possesses an ability for finding people and wanting to utilize his gift constructively, August decides to become a “Psychic Detective.” Subsequently, he places an ad in the paper. His first client is a creepy, morbidly obese hoarder by the name of Frank, who had something tragic happen in his childhood and has been haunted since. He is hoping August can dream about that event and figure out what to do to get his life back on track. Then, Emma’s sister, Carla, requests his help in apprehending Emma’s killer since the police are getting nowhere. Although she is gorgeous and August feels drawn to her, she is not entirely forthcoming with information. With his friend Mill, a retired computer tech millionaire, August begins trying to solve both cases. However, there is a lot more to being a detective than he had realized, including dangerous situations.
At 301 pages, Dream State: The Sleeping Detective Series Book One by Charles R. Hinckley is a thrilling and suspenseful crime novel with aspects of paranormal activity, romance, and humor mixed in. The author’s prose is highly descriptive and easy to understand. Although the first book in the series, it is a standalone novel with the salient points answered satisfactorily by the end. It transports readers into August’s world and holds them captivated as he solves his cases, frequently making rookie mistakes. The suspense represented my favorite aspect of the book as the novel kept me tense and spellbound.
The character development is superb in the novel. Because it is narrated from August’s first-person point of view, we are able to understand his thinking and motives. Although unsure of himself and frequently rushing into things without a clear plan, he has the best of intentions. His loyal friend Mill supports him every step of the way, even being willing to endanger himself; however, this may partially be because he is lonely, bored, and craves excitement. Their humorous repartee lightens the mood.
Because August wasn’t typically given the luxury of knowing the names of the people in his dreams, he assigned them nicknames like “Skateboard Kid” and “Motorcycle Jacket.” Most of the time, these were not disparaging. Frank’s name was known; nonetheless, August nicknamed him “Fat Man,” though not to his face. This was unnecessary and derogatory, and there are people who will be offended by it. It was one of the few things I disliked about the book.
I encountered a few minor grammatical and punctuation errors, which were not distracting; it was most likely professionally edited. Therefore, Dream State: The Sleeping Detective Series Book One achieves a rating of four out of four stars. It doesn’t deserve anything less because it is also intriguing and difficult to put down. It is enthusiastically recommended to readers who enjoy paranormal novels with suspense and mystery. Frequent profanities, some violence, and occasional sex scenes (not overly explicit) are encountered in the story. Subsequently, it is unsuitable for children and sensitive readers.
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Dream State is out on Audible, and it kicks butt! Brett Boles, is funny, and charming and so GOOD narrating this novel! It’s a psychic detective novel, full of fun and characters that…
Well, here’s a review: “…This book was really good. It tells a fast-paced story with an interesting story-line. Private investigators are always interesting to read about, but one that uses his dreams to help find people make the interest level double. This book has action, mystery, intrigue, and great characters…” Four stars!
August Chase is an ordinary man plagued by extraordinary precognitive dreams. When he foresees the brutal murder of a young woman, he tracks her down to warn her. His warnings go unheeded, and the dreamed murder becomes a reality. The victim’s sister, frustrated by slow police work, enlists August’s help, and he is launched into his first case as a private investigator. Delving deep into the victim’s life, he soon discovers a common thread in the shadowy world that may have claimed her. This is book One of the August Chase Mystery Series.
5.0 out of 5 stars A mash-up somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Doctor Strange.Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2017Verified PurchaseI quite enjoyed Charles R. Hinckley’s novel, Dream State.
The psychic detective genre, in general, is a tricky one, a mash-up somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Doctor Strange. Hinckley pulls it off by writing well. He grounds his characters solidly in a New York I could recognize, and gives them realistic, often humorous dialog. This makes the fantastical excursions into August Chase’s pre-cognitive “dream state” more compelling. On top of that, the writing is extremely visual, forcefully propelling Chase through a complex series of interrelated encounters in both this world and the next, and bringing it all to a satisfying resolution. It’s a book worth your attention. Dream State: The Sleeping Detective Series Book One
Dreaming Wide Awake
The dead steal my dreams. They come into my head and play pinball with my thoughts, my emotions, my very life. Pick a night, any night:
My heart pounds. I can barely make out the digits on my clock as they jump in a frantic dance. Are my eyes that dry? I can barely make out the numbers. My guess is four AM. The ringing in my ears is louder. I close my eyes and breathe deeply. Cool air fills my lungs. I open my eyes, a dark spot, like an evil cloud in the shape of a man in a long robes hovers in front of me. As my eyes adjust, the dark man dissolves into shadows. My back is drenched in sweat. I shiver and wrap the sheets around my body. Another clawing death dream has shaken me to my core.
I turn on the bed-side lamp and grab a pen and look around for paper. I tear the cover off a magazine and take notes. It was dark. Outside, perhaps. In a park. The woman was in her late thirties. Dark shoulder length hair. Somebody was attacking her. Did I see a knife? A mugging? And her scream. The same bloody scream I’d heard in countless dreams. Just remembering it sends shivers down my back.
I sip water from the glass I keep by the bed for just such emergencies, and take another deep breath. My heart begins to slow. I lie back, saying aloud, “Please, Just make it stop….”
But in that clawing plea, the only thing I’d managed to make go away was my girlfriend of six months. She’d had enough of the nightly carnage, the fitful dreams, screaming in the night, pushing her out of bed. After almost strangling her in her sleep, she finally moved on. Because I couldn’t. I’d give up everything, all my measly possessions: my clothes, prized record collection, new computer, TV, bank account, everything I own, if only it would just stop.
Ripping through another person’s fate is exhausting. The violence is terrifying. I’ve seen people hit by cars, shot, crushed by busses…you get the idea.
My last case began with black sedan careening over the side of a bridge and falling a hundred feet into a raging river. Both occupants were killed. But that was my precognition. That was just a dream. They hadn’t died…yet. So, I sought out the victims and tried to warn them. But they wouldn’t listen. (Most my warnings often unheeded.) They were killed a week later in the exact same accident I saw in my dream. But, hey, who doesn’t have quirks? I’m a damn good detective.
The Lucid Spider
This is the spider I saw on the ceiling this morning. I drew him in ink and took this photo to show you what he looked like. I’m calling him Gray Ghost. He appeared above my head and walked toward the bedpost before fading away. I closed my eyes and quickly reopened them, to see the spider back in original spot. It walked toward the wall, again, as if on repeat. My first thought; It’s not real. Probably a lucid dream.
Lucid dreaming is when you become aware you are dreaming and sometimes even begin to actively control your dream. (Comes in handy with certain types of dreams, but I won’t elaborate) Although, each time I become aware I am dreaming and try to control my lucid dream, it quickly evaporates into the ether and I awaken. Apparently, lucid dreamers have a more highly developed area of the brain that allows for self-reflection. If what I’ve been thinking lately can be called self-reflection (rather that self-deprecation), then yes, I would lean toward this notion. I tend to self-reflect quite a bit. Not because I’m self-absorbed, as much as the fact that I am a writer, a thinker and an artist. You must think to write and paint.
However, upon some research, I realized this was probably a Hypnagogic Hallucination. I’ve been having that type of hallucination for years. Several times I have awakened to find a dark figure standing at the edge of my bed, and although I can’t see a face, the figure is apparently staring at me, as if this ungodly creature was wanting something unfathomable.
Another particularly vivid hallucination came after playing a video game entitled, Red Barron, a WWI bi-plane aerial combat game. I awoke to observe a small red bi-plane fly into my bedroom and come straight at me. It was so tangibly real, I sat up in bed, threw a pillow at it, and yelled, “Get out!” My wife did not understand, nor appreciate my reaction.
The thing that’s strange about the spider hallucination though, was after closing and re-opening my eyes, Gray ghost reappeared, in the exact same spot on the ceiling as before and began its short, spidery journey toward the wall. I know it wasn’t real, because of the way it looked. It was a ghost. A large, Gray Ghost of a spider, crawling slowly across the ceiling. And yes, it was as creepy as it sounds.
Why a spider, I ask myself? Why not something else, like a flower or a beetle? I have no hatred or fear of spiders, beyond that of any normal person. I haven’t been bitten by a black widow or nuclear infused spider. I haven’t been seeing them in the yard or the house, lately. And yet, I saw the damn thing in my strange half-sleep state. So next time, if there is a next time, when it comes, I’ll be ready. I’ve been training myself to lucid dream. Part of which is to remind yourself (if you can, it’s quite difficult) that you are dreaming. If Gray Ghost spider comes back, I’ll be ready. I’ll remember to remind myself to fall back into a lucid dream and then I’ll kill the little bastard! I wonder if Gray Ghost spiders leave any splatter?
“What seems to be the trouble?” The man leaned in, pointing a light at my eyes. I could smell coconut butter and vanilla pudding on his breath.
“I can smell everything.”
He opened my lids with his fingers and shone the light at my eyes. “Mmmm. That’s perfectly normal.”
A nurse walked down the hall and I could smell hamburgers and ketchup and pickles wafting into the room.
“No, you don’t understand. I smell everything, as in all things.”
“All things, all at once? That would be kind of confusing. That’d smell like mud, wouldn’t it? How can you tell them apart?”
“They come to me one at a time.”
“What do you mean, like in a queue?”
“I’m not sure. I guess I just recognize them quickly, so they don’t blend.”
‘I see,” he said and wrote more notes.
“You have no idea, Doc, how many foul things I smell every day. It’s a rotten world.”
“So, this smelling thing, it’s going on right now?”
I looked at the trash can. He followed my eyes, then walked over and popped open the lid. The strong smell of antiseptic and bandages hit my nose.
“What does that smell like, then?” He asked.
“Like a hospital.”
“Hmmm.” He wrote something in his chart, then hit my knee with a rubber mallet.
“That thing, there…” I said, pointing to the instrument.
“The mallet? What about it?”
“You should replace it. It smells like old rubber.”
He looked at the instrument, then smiled. “Remarkable. Very astute of you. You know, this is the old one. I have a new one right here.” He opened a drawer and pulled out a mallet still wrapped in plastic. “You see?” he said, pointing it at me.
There was a knock on the slightly opened door. An attractive blonde woman stood partly obscured in the hallway. “Excuse me a moment,” he said and walked over to greet her. He closed the door, and that fanned a smell into the room. I knew immediately what it was. I cringed at the thought, but I knew right away what she had done.
When he came back into the room, he smiled and apologized and continued writing in his notes. “So…,” he said, not looking up. “This thing you have, is it bothering you? I mean, it’s not disrupting your sleep, or your work? You’re not distracted by it all the time, are you?”
I rubbed my sweating hands on my knees and didn’t say anything. He looked up, obviously reading my concern. “So, it’s causing you some worry?”
I couldn’t help myself. I had to say it. I held my breath for a second, as if inhaling courage from the air. When I felt lightheaded, and began to get dizzy, let it out. “She’s cheating,” I blurted.
He looked confused. “I’m sorry, what?”
“That woman. She’s your wife, I could smell you on her.”
“That’s not your concern.”
“Yes but, that’s not all…” I rubbed my hands harder on my lap, then jumped up from the table. “I should just go.”
The doctor blocked my exit. “Hold on a second. We’re not finished your examination. You have borderline high blood pressure. I want to run labs, maybe get you a referral for this obvious anxiety.”
“It wasn’t you. Okay? It was somebody else, and not that long ago.”
He stared at me a second, then put his iPad down on the table. “I mean…we could have you see somebody…”
“She was with someone this morning. I’m sorry. It was fresh and plain as day. I could smell the man…” He put his hands in his white coat pocket and pulled out a cell phone. He looked at me again, as if to confirm his thoughts, and I shrugged. “Sorry,” I mumbled.
As he registered what I was saying, his face turned dark red and his eyes glowed black. I started to say something, but he bolted from the room.
I stood alone for a minute, considering what to do, when another nurse came in. “I guess he had an emergency,” I said, smiling.
She looked at the exit door, as if she’d find some sort of answer there. “Is that what’s going on? He ran past me and didn’t say a word. Did he get a phone call or something?”
I shrugged. “More like a wake-up call, I guess.”
She smiled and the sweet smell of cherry candy wafted over me.
I started for the door. “I’ll make another appointment.”
“You do that. See the girl at the front desk. I’m so sorry.” She turned and walked to her station to get the ringing phone.
I waved as I walked past the nurse’s desk. A basket of assorted lollipops sat near the phone. “Can I?” I said, indicating the sweets. She nodded yes. I grabbed a lemon pop, then handed her my business card. She turned the card over and read aloud, “Smiley Detective Agency. If it smells we’re on it.”
I tossed the candy wrapper into the trash and waved goodbye as I walked out into the smelly world.