Monday, March 30, 2020

Thrift Shop Book Covers: "The Burning Sky"

The Burning Sky, by Ron Faust, was published in hardcover by Playboy Press in 1978, which is the very edition that caught my eye. The cover has a hardcover simplicity that pulls the me into a wild place with towering pines and an orange and red sky. The artist: Unknown (to me at least)

 The first paragraph:

Ben was telling the Texan about the cats.

There were four cats left, he said: two fine adult mountain lions, a male and a female, that he had trapped near Chama; an immature jaguar that he had smuggled across the Mexican border—“tranquilized so deep with Sucostrin I thought I’d killed her”—and a big, amber-eyed god-damned leopard that he’d bought from a small roadside zoo east of Gallup. He’d read in an Albuquerque newspaper about the outfit going bankrupt and had driven down to see if he could buy any of their cats at a good price. They had a mangy old lion, a living rug; a diseased mountain lion; an ocelot—“all apathetic, not paranoid like real cats”—and the leopard. The leopard was half starved then, wormy and diarrheic, but even so you could see that it was a magnificent animal, a cat of cats, a god of cats.

Ron Faust published 15 novels across four decades. He died in 2011 with little fanfare. What his work lacked in quantity was made-up for by its high level of quality. He was compared to Ernest Hemingway, Peter Matthiessen, and even Hunter S. Thompson.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Bargain Friday: Three Freebies!

It’s bargain Friday, and this time around I’ve collected a few free ebooks for your consideration.

The first is W. Glenn Duncan’s Rafferty’s Rules:

Rafferty ain’t in the revenge business.

So when he gets told to gun down the low-lifes who kidnapped Vivian Mollison and put her into a drug-induced twilight zone, it’s no can do.

No matter how much money Vivian’s mother is willing to throw at him.

But stirring up trouble amongst five outlaw bikers who picked on the wrong girl?

Now that’s more like it.

Next is Three on a Light, by Victor Gischler:

Detective Dean Murphy isnt your normal shamus. Because of a cursed Zippo lighter, Dean finds himself taking cases involving werewolves, witches, vampires and other things that go bump in the night. A fun, pulpy mashup of the detective and dark fantasy genres. A novel of linked short stories, all of Dean Murphys supernatural adventures. A good selection for those who enjoyed Gischlers VAMPIRE A GO-GO.

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Three On A Light represents my first efforts as a student in creative writing at the University of West Florida. Its being offered to readers as an example of my early work and to tide readers over until my next novel comes out. Id like to dedicate it to my former professors Dr. Carlos Dews and the late Laurie O'Brien.

The final is Jonathan Janz’s Witching Hour Theatre:

On a cool October night at the Starlight Cinema, an all-night horror movie triple feature is about to begin: Witching Hour Theatre. Its the one exciting thing in Larry Wilsons life, not counting the lovely brunette who works the concession stand. Settling in, he loses himself in the atmosphere of the old place: the crowd, the screams, the popcorn and the blood.

But when the second feature ends, only thirteen moviegoers remain. Among them, a woman of nineteen with a fondness for piercings and the macabre, a cop and his wife, a trio of bad-tempered bullies, and a solitary figure sitting silently in the shadows of the back row.

On this endless October night, Witching Hour Theatre will become Larrys worst nightmare. For the movie on the screen is growing stranger by the minute. His fellow theatergoers are disappearing one by one.

And the figure from the shadows is advancing.

Monday, March 16, 2020

NIGHT CALLER by Daniel Ransom (Ed Gorman)

Ed Gorman is best remembered as a crime and western writer, but he wrote eight horror novels between 1986 (Toys in the Attic) and 1996 (Night Screams) using the pseudonym Daniel Ransom. The results were mixed; most are entertaining, but Gorman thought one of the books was so bad he wouldn’t allow a copy to cross the threshold of his home. The second Daniel Ransom novel, Night Caller (1987), is my favorite of Gorman’s Ransom novels for its perfectly cheesy 1980’s setting and its sharp plotting.

While vacationing in the Midwest with her teenage daughter, Jamie, Sally Baines’ car breaks down on a rural highway. A gentleman farmer gives them a ride into a nowhere town called Haversham. Their rescuer treats them well, but Sally is unsettled by the way he looks at Jamie, and later her unease grows when she sees the farmer pointing Jamie out to another townsperson. The two women check in to The Royal—Haversham’s only hotel—after the mechanic tells them the car won’t be ready until the next day. And when the sun goes down, things really get weird.

Night Caller is a small town horror with a smattering of Psycho and a dash of Stephen King. The characters are strange and amusing, especially a local doctor and a disgraced national television news reporter. The mother-daughter team of Sally and Jamie are easy to root for, and become more likable as the story unfolds. Ed Gorman, as he did with everything he wrote, adds a layer of mystery and ratchets the suspense with admirable craft. Night Caller is a hokey and fun light horror novel. It would make a perfect television movie—something similar to the campy-Stephen King television films made in the 1990s—but until an enterprising producer makes that happen, at least we have this appealing novel.

Night Caller was revised and reissued under the title The Girl in the Attic. I’ve never read the revised edition, but it’s available as an ebook and as an audio book.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Bargain Friday: "The Book of Skulls"

A bargain on Robert Silverberg’s dark masterpiece, The Book of Skulls, and it’s in time for the socially distanced weekend. For a limited time it’s available for Kindle for $1.99.

Here is the publisher’s description and further down is a handy link to Amazon:

After Eli, a scholarly college student, finds and translates an ancient manuscript called The Book of Skulls, he and his friends embark on a cross-country trip to Arizona in search of a legendary monastery where they hope to find the secret of immortality. On the journey with Eli, there’s Timothy, an upper-class WASP with a trust fund and a solid sense of entitlement; Ned, a cynical poet and alienated gay man; and Oliver, a Kansas farm boy who escaped his rural origins and now wants to escape death.

If they can find the House of Skulls where immortal monks allegedly reside, they’ll undergo a rigorous initiation. But do those eight grinning skulls mean the joke will be on them? For a sacrifice will be required. Two must die so that two may live forever . . .

Stretching the boundary between science fiction and horror, Robert Silverberg masterfully probes deeper existential questions of morality, brotherhood, and self-determined destiny in what Harlan Ellison refers to as “one of my favorite nightmare novels.”

Friday, March 06, 2020

Bargain Friday: "In the Dark"

A bargain on the Richard Laymon’s In the Dark in time for the weekend. This was my introduction to Laymon’s work and I have fond memories reading the Leisure paperback edition some 18 or so years ago. Even better (than me reminiscing), it’s only $1.49 for your Kindle.

Here is the publisher’s description and further down is a handy link to Amazon:

Donnerville librarian Jane Kerry receives an envelope containing a 50-dollar bill and a note instructing her to "look homeward, angel" and signed “MOG (Master of Games).” So begins The Game—pushing Jane into crazy, immoral, and criminal actions. When she tries to quit, MOG has other ideas.