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The Face That Must Die

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  533 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Ramsey Campbell’s daring look into the mind of a psychotic killer was published in truncated form in 1979; an expanded edition was later published in 1982. The paranoid outlook of the book's main character, Horridge, is a grim commentary on a bleak Liverpool suburb and Thatcher-era England. Millipede Press is proud to present this masterpiece of paranoia literature in a br ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Centipede Press (first published 1979)
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Quentin Wallace
This was actually my first Ramsey Campbell novel. I had read short stories before, but nothing this lenghty. Overall I liked it. It really came across as a typical slasher story. Nothing groundbreaking, but still suspenseful and interesting. Actually the most disturbing part of the book was the long introduction by Campbell where he went into detail about his childhood and about his mother's descent into dementia. Heartbreaking, eerie stuff. It really made the fictional horror tale pale in compa ...more
David Agranoff

I suppose I would have to file this under a classic I was long over due to read. It has been many years since I last read a Ramsey Campbell novel( I read Count of Eleven probably fifteen years ago). I have read lots of wonderful short stories over those years and not sure what took so long to get back to reading one of his novels.

If you don’t know Ramsey Campbell is novelist and film critic who is considered one of the greatest living British(or otherwise) horror novelists of all time. With goo
Janie Johnson
Oct 17, 2016 Janie Johnson rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
I had this book for a very long time and I was very excited to be able to choose it for a Spook season read. I found that I was pretty disappointed in the story telling, the plot and the characters. This is a first time read for this author and will probably be the last.

Ramsey Campbell’s daring look into the mind of a psychotic killer was published in truncated form in 1979; an expanded edition was later published in 1982. The paranoid outlook of the book's main character, Horridge, is a
Oct 10, 2009 Kevin rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror

This book deals with madness and I must say, I was left dealing with madness trying to finish this book. The pace was extremely slow, so slow at times I found myself nodding off on more than one occasion.

In general, I prefer horror novels to have elements of horror, the type of horror that actually scares you. I for one do not find psychiatric disorders to be scary, especially when the main character spends much of his time doing nothing with the exception of talking to hi
Dec 10, 2015 Andy rated it really liked it
This makes the 6th Ramsey Campbell novel I've read (along with a few short story collections), and I'd say this is now my second favorite, Ancient Images still being #1.

This is a different story for Campbell, the horror in this story comes from madness, not the supernatural or the cosmic. Instead we experience the paranoia and despising of society by a lunatic which is amusing, even hilarious at times, but is insidiously, and increasingly creepy.

Campbell's theme of urban blight and decay, seen t
Mike Lester
Jun 15, 2011 Mike Lester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Campbell's earlier and most well known novels. It's a strange and effective story of schizophrenia and paranoia in urban Liverpool (which Campbell always evokes so well in his work). I'm not going to give any plot points away, as I feel that would ruin the suspense of the story and the carefully constructed prose. There are some wonderful puns in the book (most of which were excised by the editors of the first edition because they felt the reading public wouldn't understand them. ...more
Nov 12, 2013 Clint rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Man, this was just bad. I wanted to give it one star, but I just feel like I can't do that to Ramsey Campbell, he seems like such a nice guy.

I don't know why I keep reading his books. I really liked one collection when I was about 17, Alone With the Horrors was the title, I think, but really, everything else I've read, god, it's so dorky. He writes this quiet style of horror that I find really boring, the books seem to lose the plot quite often, and he spends a lot of time just dicking around i
Sep 23, 2014 Yannis rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, borrowed, crime
Can't decide whether it's a 4 star book or a 3 star book. It reminds me of myself narrating stories to a certain friend. Other than that, it's a good story about a crazy killer. Nothing special but nothing bad either. Solid 3,5 star! But since I can't put half a star I'm writing these lines to remember and change the rating if I feel it's worse than my most 4 stars, better than my 3 stars etc.
Sep 14, 2015 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-competition
Great story about a paranoid homophobic killer. All the chapters from his POV were brilliant. Seeing his paranoia grow and his warped perspective of the world around him was very interesting and well done.
great character, setting, and story. i loved to hate the main character.
Aussiescribbler Aussiescribbler
I didn't find this book entirely satisfying, but what it does well it does very well indeed. Campbell manages to take us inside the mind of a paranoid homophobic murderer. The main horror is to feel what it would be like to be driven by fear, alienation and obsession to commit horrific acts. Horridge is very clearly a product of his environment, as much a victim as those he stalks. He has been consigned to live in an inhuman council estate, having been filled with hateful attitudes by his late f ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Mar 28, 2011 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
The psycho killer has a wonderfully Dickensian name, John Horridge -- horror and porridge, how British. He is limping about the streets of 1970's Liverpool possessed of a homophobia so intense and irrational that he convinces himself that an "obvious homosexual" he sees on the street is responsible for two brutal killings of what sound like young rent boys. After he finds his deceased father's old straight razor, he resolves to do something about getting this filth off the street.

Horridge is a v
Jan 21, 2015 George rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Πρώτη μου επαφή με το έργο του Ράμσεϊ Κάμπελ, το μόνο σίγουρο είναι έμεινα ευχαριστημένος. Και αυτό γιατί διάβασα μια αρκετά σκοτεινή ιστορία, γραμμένη σ'ένα ιδιαίτερο στιλ που μου άρεσε πολύ.

Μπορώ να καταλάβω όμως τον αναγνώστη που θα διαβάσει το βιβλίο και δεν θα του αρέσει. Πρέπει να είναι κανείς στην κατάλληλη διάθεση και να μην περιμένει σπλατεριές, έντονη δράση ή ανατροπές στην πλοκή, για να μην απογοητευτεί. Αν αυτό που θέλει όμως είναι μια εξαιρετικά καλογραμμένη αστυνομική ιστορία, που
Jason Bradley Thompson
Apr 28, 2015 Jason Bradley Thompson rated it it was amazing
Someone is murdering gay prostitutes in the slums of Liverpool, and Ray Horridge, a poor, alienated, handicapped man, becomes obsessed with finding and stopping the murderer. In plot structure and general themes (a sex-obsessed killer, ruined urban settings, bleak mood), this serial killer novel could be a slasher movie of the period around 1979 when it was written (like "When A Stranger Calls"), but Campbell's immersively disturbing writing style and psychological depth raises it many levels ab ...more
Apr 13, 2009 Dreadlocksmile rated it really liked it
'The Face That Must Die' offers up a chilling novel that takes you into the mind of a psychotic, homophobic killer. The novel isn't drenched in gore or attempt to revolt you with graphic splashes of blood, but rather, it sickens you with the more subtle ploy of dragging you into the disturbed world of such a deranged character. Campbell's detailed construction of characterisation forms a terrifying read that will grip you from start to finish. The book screams an absurd paranoia that will send y ...more
Mar 31, 2014 Nick rated it liked it
Oddly enough, the serial killer was the best-developed character in the story. The rest of them had "victim" written all over them for too much of the story, behaving in ways which seemed forced and unlikely, unless they were auditioning for a role in "world's dumbest slasher victims."
No, seriously, while this book came out before a lot of the slasher films, I still can't forgive weak victim characters. It's harder to empathize with them if they get killed by doing things that are remarkably odd
Feb 22, 2009 Jail rated it really liked it
Ramsey campbell is one of my favorite horror writers and this was the book that initially hooked me. It's a depressingly realistic view of council estate life in Britain viewed through the eyes of an increasingly hostile and deranged paranoid schizoprenic.
Upon rereading, I found a few things that made me like it less, the end of the book is highly formulaic with a sort of keep you on the edge of your seat suspense style which was unlike much of Campbell's other writing. Also there's a frustrati
Simon Maginn
Jan 18, 2010 Simon Maginn rated it it was amazing
This is tremendous writing, muscular, brutal, rich and often beautiful. If the horror genre never existed, we would have to invent it just so we could have Ramsey Campbell. Don't worry if you're not a horror fan, there is nothing here to put you off, no vampires or werewolves or giant crabs or whatever it may be, just wonderful writing and a tremendous, meticulous eye. He's the best of them all, by some considerable distance, and he deserves a much, much wider readership. One of our best writers ...more
Nick Urciuoli
Jul 21, 2013 Nick Urciuoli rated it liked it
Enjoyed the novel, but why was everything described as either muddy or rusty (or occasionally both)? And why was the city bus used as a scene setting so often? Oh, while I'm at it, why was the adjective "minute" and the adverb "plaintively" used so often? Hate to say this about such a well-regarded book, but I think The Face That Must Die would've profited from either a few more revisions or a closer edit.
Hayley Gullen
Dec 11, 2016 Hayley Gullen rated it really liked it
This is a really excellent horror story. It's extremely disturbing. It's not a particularly gory story, but it gets you inside the mind of an insane killer very convincingly. And the sense of build-up to something really, really nasty is quite excellent.

I think Ramsey Campbell always creates a wonderful sense of place in his writing, too. I haven't spent much time in Liverpool but I had a really clear picture in my mind of all the locations. I highly recommend this.
Jun 01, 2012 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autographed, horror
This is my favorite Campbell novel. It's a bit different than most of his novels as there is no supernatural elements. But it is a gripping character study of a psychotic killer in the tough streets of Liverpool. The particular edition I have (Scream Press) is embellished by the equally psychotic drawings of J. F. Potter.
Aug 01, 2016 Scott rated it really liked it
Beautifully restrained, sometimes to the point almost of inertia. I felt my concentration drifting, but that didn't necessarily cause harm to the pot-clouded smoggy urban claustrophobia of this kitchen-sink realist novel of creeping horror. A brave book in terms of its anti-homophobic stance but just as much for its lightness of touch.
Forrest Jackson
Mar 27, 2009 Forrest Jackson rated it it was amazing
More suspenseful than outright scary, it's still one of the best written psycho killer novels. And, good news, Good Readers, the Millipede Press edition is a quality, smythe-sewn paperback that won't fall apart on you. On April 2nd, 2009 there will be a discussion about this title at Eerie Books in Wylie Texas.
Ed Wyrd
Sep 11, 2014 Ed Wyrd rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe when this was published in the 70s it was original and fresh, but reading it 40 years later there isn't anything special about it. And most of the characters are one-dimensional, invoking little sympathy in the reader and even less shock or suspense as we simply await their turn to die.
Sep 16, 2011 Neon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
After reading various other Ramsey Campbell books i then found this.The book is full of paranoid tension & atmosphere.It captures the time & the central character is brilliant.I loved this book so much that i read it another couple of times & will read again it in the future.
A really great book.
Aug 12, 2012 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gripping, tense look through the eyes of a serial killer. A pure page-turner that grips from page one, full of the very blackest humour and homicidal mania. The author's disarmingly frank introduction and afterword add a macabre kind of near-pathos. Excellent reading.
Good, creepy read. Allows you to get into a damaged mind...
Dec 16, 2009 Lee rated it liked it
Shelves: horror-read
First published in 1979, Campbell's story takes place in the mind of a psychotic killer.
Dave Hofer
Dec 16, 2012 Dave Hofer rated it it was amazing
This was great. The paranoid villain was amazing.
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Ramsey Campbell is a British writer considered by a number of critics to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. T. E. D. Klein has written that "Campbell reigns supreme in the field today," while S. T. Joshi has said that "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood."
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“He hurried back. Walls seemed to shift and advance. Right here, it must be. Wasn’t this passage too short? No, it wasn’t a wall that blocked his way, only fog. The fog retreated before him—then at once yielded up a wall. Staggering crimson letters caught in the web of graffiti spelled KILLER.” 2 likes
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