You may have noticed already (or not) that I’ve been struggling with posting new reviews on the blog recently. This is due to myriad reasons, none are of interest to anyone other than me (but check out my short story review column in Mystery Scene Magazine and my new book Blaze! Red Rock Rampage). So, to keep things moving I thought I would post a few small reviews, to the point with no fluff, written for places like Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Each review runs short—anywhere from 40 to 150 words—but I hope everything needed for an appropriate review are still there.
Night Show by Richard Laymon
An early Richard Laymon novel, Night Show, has all the elements that make his work special. Likable, if poor decision making, characters, cinematic plotting, smooth prose, and a mixture of subtle humor and horror. The setting, backstage B-movie horror special effects, is a bonus, too.
The Dead Man: Face of Evil by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin
The first entry in The Dead Man series, Face of Evil, is entertaining, odd (in a good way) and downright fun. Matt Cahill, a normal working class guy, finds himself in a very abnormal situation. Dead, but still breathing with a nemesis called Mr. Dark. It is an enjoyable mixture of action, suspense and horror. Humor and a tongue-in-cheek quality add marvelously to this very readable story. A terrific start to the series and I very much look forward to the other books.
The Dead Man: The Blood Mesa by James Reasoner
The Blood Mesa, the fifth installment of The Dead Man series, is an entertaining, non-stop action horror novel. Matt Cahill, The Dead Man, is in the Four Corners area of New Mexico at an Archaeological dig where Mr. Dark’s intentions are plain. Everyone must die. A smooth, action-oriented horror novel, high on entertainment. A fast, enjoyable and downright fun read. It reminded me a touch of Richard Laymon’s excellent horror novels, particularly One Rainy Night.
The Dead Man: Carnival of Death by Bill Crider
Bill Crider’s Carnival of Death, the ninth book in The Dead Man series, is as much fun as a reader can have with paper and ink. Matt Cahill, The Dead Man, is working security for a carnival when the evil entity Mr. Dark begins playing games and the carnival goers start behaving in violent and disturbing ways. And it is up to Matt and his trusty ax to save the day. A carnival setting is similar to eating cotton candy without any of the less savory side effects (headaches, toothaches, grouchiness), and this story never faltered in its delivery. Action-oriented horror with splatter, a fortune telling love interest and (did I already say this?) a terrific setting.
Tales from the Otherverse, edited by James Reasoner
Tales from the Otherverse is an entertaining and surprising anthology of alternate history stories. Bill Crider’s story “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” deservedly won a Sidewise Award for best alternate history short story. A world where Buddy Holly didn’t die in an Iowa plane crash and Elvis dumped Colonel Tom Parker as his manager turns out far differently than I would have suspected. “The Hero of Deadwood” by anthology editor James Reasoner is a clever retelling of Wild Bill Hickock’s story with a single moment changing the entire tale. The exchange of seats at a Deadwood poker game, keeping Hickock’s back against the wall.
There is also a fine Stan Wade story from John Hegenberger and seven other entertaining tales from excellent writers like, Scott A. Cupp, Lou Antonelli, Cheryl Pierson, Keith West, Robert E. Vardeman, Scott D. Parker, and Richard Prosch. An anthology very much worth the price of admission.