New York Times review of Skeleton Creek 2011

“Skeleton Creek: The Crossbones,” the third installment of the “Skeleton Creek” series, goes further in straddling analog and digital realms. The continuing story of Ryan McCray and Sarah Fincher’s investigation into the supernatural conspiracy surrounding their hometown is one part “X-Files,” one part “Blair Witch Project.”

Sarah, an aspiring filmmaker, records her various expeditions and posts videos of them on her site, at, which readers can access when they encounter various passwords throughout the book. The videos are pretty spooky, and Sarah’s site is full of hidden links that make repeated visits worthwhile. Unfortunately, reality requires the book to make some compromises. Given that not everyone has access to the Internet at all times, the book’s narrator, Ryan, is prone to recapping the videos in the pages that follow each new password. In this fashion, the book tries to have it both ways: it wants to offer a rich multimedia experience for the reader while having the story stand on its own, broadband connection or not.

But “The Crossbones” makes a different attempt to bridge online and off-line content that is more interesting and important. At various times, Sarah and Ryan find information useful to their investigation by way of a Google or YouTube search. These searches are described in some detail — enough so that a reader can go down the same path and find the same information. These are not Web pages made by the book’s author to appear real, but actual sites and videos that predate the book. This “found search result” form of storytelling is a clever way to bring in the outside world without calling too much attention to the practice.

Patrick Carman