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What is Lair of the Crystal Fang?

When a mysterious killer haunts Arkham, three struggling investigators must confront the eldritch horrors of their past in this action-packed pulp adventure from the world of Arkham Horror

In the swirling sewers beneath Arkham, excavators uncover a crystalline formation that hints at dark events from the city’s past. As the discovery makes headlines, so too does a series of bizarre murders. With no leads, the Arkham police are always one step behind. Acting on a hunch, down-on-his-luck former journalist Andy Van Nortwick reunites with adventurer Jake Williams and struggling filmmaker Maude Brion to unearth the truth. The trio know of the supernatural horrors that lurk beyond this world, and the reality haunts them. But time is running out and between them they must face their nightmares before the city of Arkham is lost to blood and chaos.

Adapted from the novel and produced with a full cast of actors, immersive sound effects and cinematic music!

Review

LAIR OF THE CRYSTAL FANG by S.A. Sidor is the third book in his “Andy Van Nortwick” trilogy with THE LAST RITUAL and CULT OF THE SPIDER-QUEEN. It takes the story back to Arkham, Massachusetts after the events of the Spider Queen novel and proceeds to follow up on several of the characters. It also makes use of several characters from the board game, which I always enjoy.

The premise of the books is a fairly simple one with a serial killing operating in Arkham, much to the show and horror of the city’s citizens. The Lamprey operates from the Arkham sewer system and is taking advantage of the many tunnels as well as unmarked passages throughout. He is working for an entity living inside a crystal meteorite buried within said sewers and trying to bring about the end of the world, as you do in ARKHAM HORROR.

Honestly, I feel like a serial killer is a somewhat lazy plot thread to introduce into Arkham Horror. The equivalent of “cheap heat” for professional wrestling. Serial killers are exciting and interesting as well as fit into the pulp feel but I feel like the other books had a lot more interesting hooks to base the story around. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t an enjoyable story, it’s very well-executed but it is a small complaint I had during the story.

It’s great seeing characters like Rex Murphy, Wendy Adams, Carolyn Fern, Mandy Thompson and Charlie Sinclair spread throughout the story. Usually, the Arkham Horror board game characters are restricted to being cameos and are more like Easter Eggs than actual personalities. This is not the case here. I particularly like the handling of Wendy Adams, who is a street urchin trying to survive in a city full of monsters.

I appreciate the follow up from The Cult of the Spider Queen as we see Jack Williams becoming a rare disabled hero as he lost his right leg during the events of that book. We also see Maud Brion, former actress and director, struggling to recover her sanity after her ordeal. Finally, Andy Van Notwick has lost his job at the paper because he wasn’t able to find gold in the jungle.

Seeing the characters attempt to bounce back from the events of an encounter with the Mythos is a rare treat in the world of Cthulhu adventures and works quite well for characterization. I also think Wendy Adams is a great character as a young woman who doesn’t realize how weird the things she deals with truly are. Doctor Fern also strikes a nice balance between someone who wants to help with supernatural maladies and an objective scientist.

Ironically, one of my favorite parts of the book was the scenes with Charlie Sinclair. The Mayor of Arkham, he’s an individual who believes in the occult and supernatural spookiness of his town. However, his political ambitions and stubborness is so great that when he discovers a mysterious magic crystal as well as a cult worshiping it, his primary concern is that it doesn’t disrupt his attempt to replace the Arkham sewer system with a modern one.

I recommend getting the Graphic Audiobook version of this book if you have to choose between the ebook, paperback, or audiobook version(s). The actors do a fantastic job of bringing all of the characters to life and matching accents with the environment as well as backgrounds. It really brings the story to life in a way that wouldn’t be the same in text form.

In conclusion, this is a pretty fun book. While I think a serial killer plot in Arkham is somewhat low-hanging fruit, the story is engaging and the characters quite enjoyable. I’d love a fourth Andy Van Notwick novel and see the characters continue to develop. I’m even low-key shipping some of the characters, which I never thought I’d do.

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