by Brandon Massey

Those familiar with Brandon Massey’s past work will be in
for a bit of a surprise when reading CORNERED, his latest effort.
Massey has primarily, though not exclusively, focused on the
supernatural horror genre in his novels and short stories. CORNERED
is horrific and possibly the most frightening book he has published
to date. But the horrors one encounters here are very much of this
world --- as close to any of us as, literally, a knock on the

Corey Webb has achieved a hard-fought and well-won piece of the
pie. He has overcome a hardscrabble background thanks in part to
Louise, his grandmother, who provided him with love, guidance and a
home, and the Reverend Otis Trice, who moved him from Detroit to
Atlanta and into an environment free from the deadly influence of
the street. The largest share of credit, though, has to be given to
Webb himself, who invested hours, days and years of sweat equity
into bettering himself and his situation.

As CORNERED opens, we meet Webb in present time. He is the
half-owner of a fabulously successful security company based in
Atlanta, and even more importantly is husband to Simone, a smart,
loving and attractive psychologist, and father to Jada, a
precocious nine-year-old whose congenital deafness is on its way to
resolution. However, Webb’s secure and hard-won world is
threatened with almost immediate collapse when his past street
history in Detroit suddenly collides with his present. The past is
manifested by Leon Sharpe, a jittery, dangerous character who grew
up across the street from Webb and who drew the teenage Webb into
the dark shadows of the criminal life, culminating in a disaster
that is his darkest shame and secret. Sharpe is accompanied by
Billy, an almost silent giant of a man who is a pervert of the
vilest sort.

But the most frightening thing about Sharpe is that he knows
Webb’s secret past and wants a very large piece of what Webb
has worked so long and so hard for. When Webb makes him an offer
that he finds insulting, Sharpe goes berserk and does the
unthinkable, kidnapping Webb’s family and holding them for
ransom, with the brooding, frightening Billy hovering just off to
the side. Webb, his unfortunate criminal past notwithstanding, is
ill-prepared to function on the playing field that Sharpe has
suddenly laid out. Reeling from an unexpected betrayal, and on the
run from law enforcement, Webb has to turn to his own considerable
inner resources to rescue everything and everyone he holds dear,
even as he must confront and conquer his own past.

Massey is absolutely pitch-perfect. There are any number of
scenes that are unforgettable: Webb’s first meeting with
Billy, his initial reluctant reunion with Sharpe, and the abduction
of Webb’s family are but a few. The show stealer, however, is
Reverend Otis, a man of deep wisdom and strength of character who
appears only briefly and in two separate scenes, yet whose words
and deeds resonate throughout the book and even outside of it. It
is worth reading simply for the privilege and pleasure of
encountering him. Those who simply want to be scared to death will
find much to love here as well. CORNERED, a novel shot through with
love, hate, horror, and yes, redemption, is a must read for 2009
and beyond.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 28, 2010

by Brandon Massey

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle
  • ISBN-10: 0786020857
  • ISBN-13: 9780786020850