Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Auctioneer” as Want to Read:
The Auctioneer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Auctioneer

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  561 ratings  ·  114 reviews

Harrowing tensions explode in a series of events that could happen anywhere, to anyone, just as they do to John Moore-whose days of freedom run out, who is stripped of his possessions, his courage, and his hopes, by the ominous presence of an insidious stranger impossible to resist.

Published to wide acclaim in 1976, but almost neglected since then, The Auctioneer is a bon

Hardcover, 239 pages
Published 1975 by Simon & Schuster
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Auctioneer, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Auctioneer

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  561 ratings  ·  114 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hardboiled, horror, greed
”Just remember this,” he said in a deep voice that cut neatly through the confusion. “Whatever I’ve done, you’ve let me do.”

 photo auctioneer_zpsbbfpfmdw.jpg

When Perly Dunsmore moves to Harlowe, New Hampshire, with his auctioneering company and starts espousing the natural beauty of the community, he is mostly regarded as a man a few slices short of a full loaf. Most of the people in Harlowe have been on the land for many generations, and for most of the year, they exist at a sustainable level. They are poor and don’t know it.
4.5/5 stars!

Evil in a small town is one of my favorite horror tropes and books like this are the reason why!

Harlowe, New Hampshire is a small town surrounded by small farms. It's a tightly knit community, or at least the townsfolk believe it is, until an outsider comes to town and slowly things begin to unravel.

Perly Dunsmore is an auctioneer. Taking over a recently available old mansion in town, (due to the death of the previous owner), Perly sets about "improving" Harlowe by holding auctions
Grady Hendrix
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brief bestseller when it debuted in 1975, Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer has been totally forgotten. Sites like Will Errickson’s Too Much Horror Fiction have kept its tiny flame from becoming completely extinguished, but it’s basically a literary shooting star that flared once, and was gone. Contributing to its short shelf-life, Samson wrote The Auctioneer in her 30s and died of cancer shortly after it was published. Her death is our loss. This is one of those books you stumble across with no ex ...more
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I stumbled across on online discussion praising this book and when my local library had a copy I decided to give it a try.

An interesting look at the power of persuasion, namely the control one man is able to exert on a small rural New England township. In today's current environment of instant availability of news and information it can be difficult to imagine a time when people were still fairly isolated from the outside world and even their neighbors. Things start innocently enough when a rece
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
4.5 stars.

THE AUCTIONEER, by Joan Samson, was first issued in 1976. This new edition released by Valancourt Books in 2018 comes with an all new introduction by Grady Hendrix, as well as an afterword by the author's husband, Warren Carberg.

This novel takes place in a farming community called Harlowe. In a quiet, peaceful American town where change is very slow to come, John and Mim Moore farm the land that John's family had owned for many generations. With their beautiful four-year-old daughter,
Cody | codysbookshelf
What happens when good people do nothing?

A searing hot read through and through, The Auctioneer — the author’s only release, due to dying of cancer the year after publication — barrels forward like a race car. I was hooked from page one, helpless to put it down.

A stranger has come to Harlowe, a small farm town in New Hampshire. The stranger, Perly Dunsmore, has lived in forty countries and done business all over the world — he just oozes charm — and he’s chosen to move in to town: a place that
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror-thriller
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 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?
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Valancourt Books recently brought this 70's horror classic back from obscurity, and I immediately picked it up. I had been hearing some buzz around the rerelease, and I was excited to read something that a number of people really enjoyed.

Grady Hendrix, who single handedly started the vintage horror paperback revival with his excellent book Paperbacks From Hell, wrote the introduction for this edition, and I was excited for that as well. Hendrix knows and loves these classic horror stories, and
Maria Hill AKA MH Books
Picture me confused - why is this classified as horror? This is literary Fiction at its finest. It slowly quietly snuck into my veins. Then the ending blew me away.

This is the very real story of how one single individual can change a whole town for the worse but only because they let him do it. So why did they let him do it you may ask? I see one of my GR friends starts with the quote ”Just remember this,” he said in a deep voice that cut neatly through the confusion. “Whatever I’ve done, you’v
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not entirely sure this wasn’t Bentley Little writing under a pen name…of course, he would have been a teenager, but you see what I’m sayin’.

“We’re having an auction.”

Now, pony up some stuff.

All of it.

I listened to this on audio and it was great. Matt Godfrey is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. The dude has serious skills and I have thoroughly enjoyed everything that I have listened to from him. Absolutely perfect for the story.

I also need to give a shout out to Valancourt Books
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I don't remember where/how I heard about this book about two years ago. When I looked up Ms. Samson, and found out it was her only novel (she was writing her second, when she passed away from that frikkin cancer), I thought I'd look at my local used bookstore, and she had a copy.
Her debut is a claustrophobic, slow boiling terror that's taking over a small town in New Hampshire. The effects of a charismatic stranger, with big plans for their quiet town...could happen anywhere. Great atmosphere an
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-tbr
"She was swept with an awe at his power. It required a reversal of everything she wanted and believed to think that such power--whatever its devious route--could be directed at ends that were anything but right and good."

It's always terrifying when a book published over 40 years ago is eerily relevant in a political sense. Although The Auctioneer deals with a story that is particular to the town its set in, the atmosphere that Joan Samson builds hits a little too close to home.

The auctioneer, P
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The auctioneer is Perly Dunsmore. A newcomer to Harlowe, he preaches the virtue of the good old-fashioned values the town still has. He plays off the town’s fears of the threat of the outside world, slowly manipulating his way into their trust and admiration. He has the type of charisma that draws the most clear-headed away from their senses and soon the people of Harlowe are all his willing victims.

John and Mim Moore, along with John’s elderly Ma and their young daughter Hildie, run a farm tha
Linda  Branham Greenwell
This is a book that you won't forget. It was written in the 70's and I read it way back then when it was new. I am going to reread this book. It is a story that will unnerve you. It takes place in a small country town. An auctioneer comes to town... and is trying to get started in business. The towns' people want to help him out, so they clean out their old items to help him get started... but then he KEEPS coming around. It brings to mind the quote:
"All that is needed for evil to flourish is f
Mar 16, 2015 marked it as to-read
This is the first hardcover edition of the book published by Simon And Schuster in 1975 and has 240 pages.
Rob Twinem
Good old fashioned horror A good old fashioned horror story from the 70's with none off the gratuitous sex and violence offered in so many publications today and sometimes that is no bad thing in fact at times quite refreshing. Set in a small New Hampshire town of Harlowe the story revolves around a hard working farmer John Moore, his wife Miriam (Mim) and their four year old daughter Hildie. This is a close-knit community where families and friends share their lives, loves,problems and successe ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
A shady auctioneer named Percy Dunsmoore is terrorizing a small town named Harlowe by taking people's property selling them on his numerous auctions. Things got out of hand when he starts selling children and land. Suddenly a little town has more police than New York City per capita. John Moore seems to loose everything, even his cows are taken away from him but then the tables are turning. The book has a bit of a long winded start. Language is very rural/authentic and there's not much action go ...more
Bill Hsu
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I like the basic concept, though it was telegraphed early on. These days, I'm afraid I have little patience for this kind of chatty, gossipy rural Americana. Nice cover.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, horror, owned
I struggled with my rating. I think it was probably a nice allegory for its time (and our time), but it strikes me as too obvious and therefore inelegant, if that makes any sense. As I assume Samson is trying to write a story at a higher level, I found the morality a little too black and white, the evil city slicker/outsider and the noble country people of the earth. The suckers are also too easily suckered and cowed for too long. The attempts at paranoia weren’t that effective.

Pare this down to
Though this book isn't an official entry in Valancourt's Paperbacks from Hell imprint, it's mentioned enough in the book and has received high enough praise from everyone involved with it that I figure it deserves an honorable mention. More to the point, it should have been the flagship book of the imprint, because if there's another book more representative of a lost classic of horror, this is it.

Strangely, this is a book that received a lot of praise and attention when it was first released in
Kevin Jones
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Auctioneer perfectly captured the slow burn of creeping horror in a small town America setting grappling with the tensions inherent when a fading traditional way of life runs up against intrusions from a modern world looking to cash in on an idealized notion of the past.

The story starts with the arrival of a mysterious stranger named Perly Dunsmore (who, incidentally, is the first villain I’ve ever seen with a golden retriever) in an idyllic, New Hampshire town. The town and its people have
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
A mix of the thematic hivemind and gothic tones of "The Lottery" with the small town Americana and charismatic villain of Needful Things, this superb book shows that Joan Samson was an amazing talent. We are so lucky to have gotten this book from her before she passed away suddenly from brain cancer soon after its publication in 1976, but I can't help but to wonder what else she might have had in store. Because this book is truly brilliant.

It is hard to just sum this book up as a mix of those tw
April Jones
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE AUCTIONEER is a strange, subtle, beautifully written book about how evil comes slowly and insidiously to the small New England farming town of Harlowe in the form of Perly Dunsmore, a charismatic, handsome middle age traveler who has taken the town to his bosom, declaring it the epitome of old-fashioned values and morals.

The main couple, Mim and John Moore, are hard working farmers with a generations old farm that both of them cherish. They live with John's elderly crippled mother and their
Aaron Martz
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The evil in this book is so relentless and frustrating I thought I was going to get an ulcer reading it. You want the characters to stand up for themselves, to put a stop to it, but they keep letting themselves be bowled over, and the most disturbing thing is that if you were put in their position, you wouldn't do anything differently. Samson has fashioned an airtight plot of implacable, undermining, greedy, logical, progressive evil, the kind of evil that creeps up on you an inch at a time unti ...more
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I don't think I've ever read anything that made me feel as indignant, powerless, angry, and scared as this book.

In this infuriating, terrifying tale, innocence and wonder concerning the new philanthropist in town turn rapidly to fear, outrage, and terror.

My hands are tied with this review-- what can I say without spoiling everything?

I'll say this-- Joan Samson, who died of cancer shortly after The Auctioneer's publication, managed to capture evil incarnate in her only book. Quiet, creeping,
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is truly amazing, incredibly suspenseful and horrifying because it seems so ordinary. I read this book quite a while ago and remember finishing it in a hotel room on some trip I took with my parents (visiting a potential college for me, perhaps?). I simply couldn't put the book down. I think I will have to read it again.
low key libertarian/conservative vibes but still good & scary & relevant
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
From Casual Debris.

Well received critically and commercially upon its initial release, The Auctioneer has since fallen into semi-obscurity. This unfortunate fate is partly due to the author's death shortly after the novels's publication, and the absence of a second book. I understand that Joan Samson was working on a second novel when she sadly succumbed to cancer shortly before the age of forty. While some novels persist in part because they are the author's only published work, such as John Ke
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Literary Horror: March 2019 Group Read: The Auctioneer 19 46 Apr 14, 2019 10:39AM  
Horror Aficionados : The Auctioneer (1975) by Joan Samson 10 42 Sep 08, 2018 08:24PM  
Forsythe's Auctions 1 4 Aug 19, 2018 11:27AM  
Valancourt Books: The Auctioneer (1975) by Joan Samson 4 19 Jul 24, 2018 04:30PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Muscle for the Wing
  • Elizabeth
  • Sound of Midnight
  • The Search for Joseph Tully
  • Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump
  • Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within
  • The Tribe
  • My Tibetan Childhood: When Ice Shattered Stone
  • The Lords Of The Golden Horn: From Suleiman The Magnificent To Kamal Ataturk
  • The Amulet
  • The Museum of Horrors
  • Nightmares And Geezenstacks
  • The Grotesque
  • The Ninth Configuration
  • The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship
  • Incubus
  • Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday The 13th
See similar books…
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »