3.5, really. If you have not read anything by Ed Gorman, do yourself a favor and check out his work--you will not be sorry. He writes a bit of everyth3.5, really. If you have not read anything by Ed Gorman, do yourself a favor and check out his work--you will not be sorry. He writes a bit of everything to meet your reading needs. ...more
While this may be vintage Leisure Book fair, this story was horrible. I was hoping for a Laymonesque ONE RAINY NIGHT and what I got was an amateurishWhile this may be vintage Leisure Book fair, this story was horrible. I was hoping for a Laymonesque ONE RAINY NIGHT and what I got was an amateurish story focused on how deviant individuals are concerning sex. Major disappointment. In fact, I am not even going to provide a cover for this book. Yeah, that'll show it. ...more
The creepiest thing about this book is that my copy has a child's scribbling throughout it. A very unexpected (but appreciated) element to a story aboThe creepiest thing about this book is that my copy has a child's scribbling throughout it. A very unexpected (but appreciated) element to a story about a community losing its identity through lose of physical and emotional and familial possessions. Who was the Auctioneer? More troubling perhaps is: Are we not all the Auctioneer at times?
I wish there were more books of this caliber written in this genre. Any suggestions? ...more
THE HOWLING is an antiquated werewolf novel, but it also is one of the mainstays of werewolf storytelling. Overall, this book was a fast***SPOILERS***
THE HOWLING is an antiquated werewolf novel, but it also is one of the mainstays of werewolf storytelling. Overall, this book was a fast-paced, gripping story of how the werewolf came into existence (according to Brander). That part was interesting. What wasn't interesting was the way the characters developed. Roy, the main male character, is characterized as a hardworking, loving, and loyal husband. Until, that is, his wife is raped. Then he turns into an asshole. I think if my wife was raped, I would do whatever it took to help her recover. The last thing I would be worried about was our sex-life. Roy worries about his sex-life. Karyn, the female lead, is a strong woman who battles personal demons throughout most of the novel. At times, her strength is admirable; at others, her strength is not really strength and comes across as just being silly and stupid.
So, the couple moves to an isolated wooded village on the outskirts of LA. There, the couple tries to eek out a life that will help heal the wounds of what happened to Karyn. Roy, who commutes back and forth from the village to LA, starts to have a wandering eye. The shopkeeper, an exotic woman named Marcia, begins an affair with Roy. You can probably fill in the blanks...yep, Marcia is a werewolf. It is a bit corny. The sex scenes will make you both laugh and feel uncomfortable...a whole new appreciation for the term 'doggy-style'. Anyways, the story is pretty straightforward. Karyn's dog goes missing--it becomes a snack. Roy is attacked--he becomes a werewolf. Karyn battles to save her life--she lives, albeit with a very anticlimactic battle scene.
Why the four stars? It's Halloween. The book was fun. And it kills time. Read the book and then watch the movie. There aren't many surprises here, but you could read a worse werewolf story....more
Wowzer wowzer wowzer, The Mars Labyrinth, indeed. I have read a few messed up books in my day, but THE CRIMSON LABYRINTH might take the cake. A few ofWowzer wowzer wowzer, The Mars Labyrinth, indeed. I have read a few messed up books in my day, but THE CRIMSON LABYRINTH might take the cake. A few of you may find it a bit gentle; to you I say find a therapist. For the others that feel the same as I do about this book all I can say is: humanity knows no bounds for violence in a voyeuristic capacity.
Before I start comparing this novel to some other fan-favs, allow me a few words about the plot. A group of nine people (all Japanese, underemployed or unemployed, men and women) are kidnapped from their country and taken to Bungle Bungle in Australia. They have been chosen to star in a snuff film. Let me say that another way: they have been chosen to kill each other until there is but one lone survivor. Okay, sure, this has been done numerous times. RUNNING MAN. BATTLE ROYALE. (These two novels seem to get the most comparisons.) And there is even SCAVENGER by David Morrell. But in each of these novels, the phrase snuff film never appears. Perhaps that is why this book disturbed me so.
Basically, THE CRIMSON LABYRINTH is reality TV for the sadist. A type of Survivor for the bloodthirsty. Add the fact that game and drama theory play into it and you have a real awesome piece of horror literature. But this novel isn’t the typical scary spirit that pervades through most of Japanese horror. This story is in your face, play-with-your-mind, and then mess with you a bit more type of storytelling. There were actually moments in the book that made me feel as if I had control of the outcome of the ending. This may be because of how Yusuke Kishi used the Choose Your Own Adventure style sometimes through the narrative. I bet I read a hundred different books like that as a kid; and each of those books made me backtrack and look for the TRUE END. (I wish I could tell you more and give a better account of this book, but I can’t. This is a book that you have to experience on your own.) Suffice to say, I feel as if my childhood memories of those types of stories have indelibly been corrupted for all time because of this novel. And to that I say: Well played, Mr. Kishi. Well played.
A truly wonderful horror novel that is saturated with enough survival information and mystery to satisfy all types of readers, Kishi’s American debut will not disappoint.
I used to work at a small library in South Dakota. Please hold all your comments to yourself -- I have heard them all before. One thing the small townI used to work at a small library in South Dakota. Please hold all your comments to yourself -- I have heard them all before. One thing the small town where this library is located gave me was books. Lots of them. I was the only male surrounded by women 20 or more years older than me. They knew my passion for reading. And when donated books came to the library after my departure these ladies would place the books they thought I would like to read in a box for me. THE FAN was one of these books. I had never heard of Bob Randall before so I let this one linger on my shelves for a bit.
Well, I read it and now I have a few things to say about it. First off, this epistolary novel has been made into two different movies. The first was in 1981 and starred Lauren Bacall and James Garner. From those names alone you might think this was a popular movie -- you'd be wrong though. The movie was a flop. The second movie based on this book starred Robert DeNiro and Wesley Snipes -- this version is much different. I never saw this movie and am too lazy to see what it grossed at the box office. But it seemed to be popular back in the day.
So the book.
The book was short -- there was a lot of white on the pages. Each chapter was a letter written between the different characters. I have no problem with epistolary novels; in fact, I enjoy them, mostly. This one was a mixed bag. For starters, the novel does not age well. This is almost a period piece. Again, I have no problem with that if the story can stand on its own feet. This one cannot. The characters are flat. The dialogue is stilted. And the ending of the novel is one of the most anticlimactic I have ever read. With that being said, there are some redeeming qualities about this book. The way Randall portrays Hollywood was interesting. The scandals and the personas of that industry were full of vigor...except for the main character, Sally, whose whining and complacency made me want to cheer on the killer. And Jake, the ex-lover, whose valiant efforts to save Sally throughout the book were contrived and cliche, at best.
So why the three stars?
Simple. I liked the killer. Perhaps this says more about me than I care to admit. But Randall created a psychopath that was believable and horrifying. Few books have been more brilliant when portraying the madness and obsession of characters like Douglas, the stalker who fixates about a life with Sally. To me, it seems Randall would agree with me. He spends the most time with Douglas, fleshing out his character, his character's thoughts, and, ultimately, the slip between reality and fantasy that sends Douglas to the edge to commit murder. If only Randall would have done the same with the other characters...it might have made a very good story.
If you can find this book, and want to read a quick psychological thriller, there are worse books that you could choose.
RECOMMENDED (as a time killer...sorry, bad pun) ...more
Before beginning my review, let me share something: I have BOOK RAGE. Similar to road rage, but not as violent, book rage makes me feel emotions withBefore beginning my review, let me share something: I have BOOK RAGE. Similar to road rage, but not as violent, book rage makes me feel emotions with great intensity. You see, for me, when book rage takes hold, I have a very difficult time separating myself from the story or character that has enraptured me so. Sometimes this is not so bad, maybe I’m really into a thriller or suspense story and I am having fun chasing the Bad Guy or figuring out the mystery. But sometimes, as in the reading of THE DEAD LETTERS, book rage makes me experience emotions I would rather keep hidden from all, including myself.
Let me explain.
THE DEAD LETTERS is a pretty intense story. It is about Whit’s obsession of tracking down the serial killer that murdered his daughter. But the story is not just about revenge. The story is also about fatherhood, and all the joys and pains associated with fatherhood. Still, even with revenge and fatherhood, the story is missing a third of what it’s about: madness.
You see, Killjoy, the serial killer, is no longer a serial killer. He wants to atone for his sins of killing children by kidnapping children of broken homes and bringing these children to the parents of the children he murdered. One can easily see how temping it would be to take these children and run away, start a new life, pretend nothing ever happened. But Whit has a bigger plan. He wants justice. He wants justice for his daughter; he wants justice for his wife, who happens to be in the insane asylum since the murder of her daughter; and he wants justice for himself, for what he had taken away from him. Whit won’t allow himself to accept the kidnapped children, and he won’t allow others to accept them as well.
For most of the book I had these charged feelings, sharing what I can only guess Whit was feeling. But then I had a nightmare. I have two children. Twins. They are three years old. Killjoy kills three year olds. In that nightmare, I awoke to find Killjoy in my living room; he had already killed my children. You can imagine the devastation I felt. Even upon waking, I had this weight upon my heart and mind. Book rage was taking over. Before long, I had completely surrendered myself to feeling what Whit was feeling and experiencing.
I tried to take breaks between readings; the book was never far from my mind. But then the really disturbing aspects of book rage began to take place. I started thinking about what type of monster I would become if someone murdered my children. I imagined the rage I would feel. I imagined the hate that would be multiplying in my body until I had the killer in my hands. I imagined the different ways I would enact my revenge, seek my satisfaction. I won’t share with you these plans, but I began to understand the madness part of this book a whole lot better.
In the end I can’t really say I recommend this novel. It is terrifically written by an artist that knows his craft. The plotting is deft, exhilarating. The characters are believable, three-dimensional. So why can’t I recommend this book? You have to be emotionally ready. And I can’t say that I was emotionally ready to read THE DEAD LETTERS.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (with cautions)
SIDE NOTE: TOM PICCIRILLI REMINDS ME A LOT OF EARLY J.G. BALLARD. IT WILL ONLY BE A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE MR. PICCIRILLI’S NOVELS MOVE FROM THE GENRE SHELF TO THE ONE LABELED LITERATURE. ...more
Stephen King gushes over James Herbert; I don't see why. Herbert is a decent writer and storyteller, to be sure; but, I found nothing fascinating abouStephen King gushes over James Herbert; I don't see why. Herbert is a decent writer and storyteller, to be sure; but, I found nothing fascinating about HAUNTED. For a haunted-house story, it was pretty clear from the beginning that Herbert never intended to do anything different from the already established sub-genre of horror fiction (how can a writer expect to top THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE?). With that said, it does have an interesting protagonist, an anti-hero named David who is battling his own personal demons while trying to debase the supernatural. But the supporting cast in this novel is laughable. (view spoiler)[The "medium" who succumbs to what can best be described as stage-fright is one of the sorriest ends to a character I have ever read. (hide spoiler)] Overall, this is a fast read that suits the Halloween atmosphere. Perhaps because it was written in the early 80s some of the pizzazz has been lost. Perhaps. You could do worse for a "fright" read. That being said, I am still going to read some of Herbert's other titles, they just won't be moving to the top of the TBR pile any time soon.
Hello, my name is Gavin, and I love horror fiction. There. I've said it. (Phew, I really do feel better.) That's right folks, bedside reading Balzac aHello, my name is Gavin, and I love horror fiction. There. I've said it. (Phew, I really do feel better.) That's right folks, bedside reading Balzac and Proust and Dickens and Faulkner and Woolf and Hugo and contemporary biggies as Bolano and Franzen, I love to read horror fiction.