W. H. Allen, 1987
Thus begins the first in a series of book reviews which I must complete soon so Scott will stop bothering me about his books. I admit I have had them for some time, however I gave him fair warning that if he loaned me a book (let alone books) it would go in to my to read stack, which generally hovers around 30 of the buggers, and might not get read for some time. Now he is hounding me about his books. HOUNDING ME! (I was shaking my fist in the air during that last bit.) So fine Scott, just for you I finally got around to reading the two you lent me and now, now I get to review them. So let’s do that, shall we?
Ghoul is a hard book to summarize without delving too far into the plots and how they all eventually resolve. In the beginning there are a series of murders in London which has Detective Chief Superintendent Hilary Rand baffled. Then the bombings start. Meanwhile in Vancouver, Zinc Chandler, Mountie, detective, and all that is man, is working a drug sting that goes very wrong. This sets him on a mission of vengeance. On top of all this we have Deborah Lane, a mousey school teacher in Rhode Island who keeps getting very creepy phone calls, and then her cat passes away.
Ghoul is not a book I would have picked up on my own and, to be perfectly honest, a book that I put down a couple of times in discomfort. There are times when the author is describing what the murders are doing to their victims that got to me. By this I mean that there were a couple of sequences that had me putting the book down and walking away from it for a bit. I will cop to having a weak stomach but man, some of this stuff was brutal. Aside from that my only major problem with the book was the twist at the end. It made me want to find Slade, who is actually a collection of people, and kick his collective butt into the next week. A couple of other nits I would like to pick are that one of the characters is named Zinc Chandler and he is a cop. Every time I read this name I imagined it splashed across the front of some ‘40s pulp magazine, “Zinc Chandler Finds the Killer from the Mists!” Of course there would be some beauty in a barely there dress cowering at his feet as he gives the menacing shadow his trademark stare. Sorry, got a little off track there. The other complaint I have goes more to the format of the story. The story is set in London, Vancouver, and Rhode Island and this world-spanning dimension did not really add anything to the story. For me it felt like I was reading a poorly executed Tom Clancy novel for most of it until something clicked in my head and I figured out what was going on. I am sorry to be so vague, but I do not want to give away any of the twists in the plot.
In the things I loved about this book column were the references to Lovecraft’s work. I really enjoy Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos and any book that can turn in a believable thriller based around the Mythos is okay by me. On top of that I found this book almost compulsively readable and even though I walked away from it a couple of times, I would pick it back up again fairly quickly so I could find out what happened next. If you are a fan of the horror genre or macabre crime then I suggest you check this out, but be warned, there is some rough stuff between those covers.