Headless

The Ghost and the Mask, Book One

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
236 Pages
Reviewed on 03/20/2021
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Author Biography

Tristram Lowe writes about monsters, and sometimes, scary things too. He is a student of the Japanese language and culture and a lifelong fantasy reader. He is also a fencing coach, so it’s likely a sword fight or two will show up in his books. Tristram has been crafting fantastical tales since the first grade, when he penciled a spooky story about a haunted house in his Big Chief tablet. After being raised in the mountains of Colorado, he spent two or three lifetimes in Los Angeles, and now enjoys hikes through mossy trees and rainy board game nights in Oregon with his wife, their son, and their elderly cat. The cat often wins. Headless was inspired by a friend’s dream.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Headless is an enthralling tale of mystery and horror and is the first book of Tristram Lowe's The Ghost and the Mask series. Akio is a professional photographer working for the Tokyo-based newspaper Dainichi Daily. All he wants is to get into the good books of his colleague and writer Masami Sato and accompany her on her next case. After distinguishing herself in a male-dominated workforce, Masami delves deep into a puzzling murder investigation involving a serial killer who slices off the heads of his victims with a katana. Circumstances put Akio and Masami together, and the duo travels to neighboring Kofu, where they learn some distressing facts about the killer. As they find themselves marked by him, they discover their only hope for salvation lies with a kendo master named Miyahara.

A delicious blend of murder-mystery and horror mixed with ancient Japanese folklore, Headless grabs you from the first page and refuses to let go till the end. Tristram Lowe weaves a contemporary supernatural tale influenced by Japanese mythology that feels authentic and absorbs you in a way that makes you keep turning the pages in anticipation of what is to come. The characters are quirky and likable, and the dialogue feels quite often dripped in sarcastic wit. Akio's absolute devotion to Masami felt endearing and hilarious in equal measure and the banter between the two of them were some of my favorite parts of the book. Anyone itching for a well-written supernatural murder-mystery with some swashbuckling samurai action should check Headless out.

Susan Sewell

Two journalists are caught in a supernatural fight for their lives while working on a story about a serial killer in the breathtaking urban fantasy novel, Headless (The Ghost and the Mask: Book 1) by Tristram Lowe. Akio Tsukino, a photographer at the Tokyo Newspaper, Dainichi Daily, wants to work with the front-page journalist, Masami Sato. Finagling an assignment with Masami, Akio takes the place of her usual cameraman. Together, Masami and Akio travel to Kofu to investigate a story about a serial killer who removes the heads of his victims. Unexpectedly, there is far more to the murders than either of them foresees. While questioning the friends and families of the victims, they receive details that are irrational and senseless. However, as they continue to investigate, they find themselves in life-threatening circumstances with a sinister and supernatural being. Can their worse suspicions be true? Will they find the murderer before they become the next victims?

Headless (The Ghost and the Mask: Book 1) by Tristram Lowe is a spine-tingling urban fantasy novel with a hint of Samurai lore lacing through the storyline. Set amongst the splendid backdrop of Japan, the plot moves at a fast pace. This novel is filled with action and suspense, creating a dramatic and breathtaking thriller. With an eerie supernatural ambiance and a bloodcurdling monster, the story held me spellbound from the first page until the last. The author creates a captivating plot with twists and turns woven through the story; the intensity and horror build to a terrifying and exciting finale. Due to some bloody and violent scenes, the story is more appropriate for readers over the age of twelve.

Lit Amri

“Someone’s out there slicing heads off!” In Headless (The Ghost And The Mask, Book One) by Tristram Lowe, a serial killer is bringing terror on the streets, killing his victims by decapitating them and taking their heads away. Masami Sato is an intelligent and hardworking journalist, and people admire her work, albeit secretly. The gruesome crime spree is another assignment that deserves Masami's attention but this time an ambitious staff photographer, Akio Tsukino, wants in. Their partnership is shaky in the beginning, but the more they learn about the murders, the more they realize that they need to work together if they want a good story and photos out of the case - with their heads still attached.

As a supernatural fan, I find the concept and story premise of Headless intriguing. The fast-paced plot is well-structured and the characterization is solid; Masami Sato is an easy protagonist to cheer for especially when she has to deal with ridiculous misogynistic treatment in a male-dominated profession. The way she obtains information and gets into the places she needs for her story is admirable. It was hard to empathize and connect with Akio at first as he kept messing up certain moments, especially when he tried to establish a good working relationship with Masami but ended up annoying her. That said, he shows his worth when his colleague needs his help. The narrative is direct, engaging, and vibrant with details as the story progresses from mysterious deaths to fearful, life-threatening situations that bring out the heroism in ordinary people. Overall, this is a great start for Tristram Lowe's The Ghost And The Mask series.