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Author: John Saul
Published: June, 2000
Review by: CL6 Kali D'or

This is quite an interesting book. I am not sure if it is really a horror book - it might be better classified as a murder/mystery/thriller, but there are enough twists and turns and surprises in it, as well as a rather unique ending, that makes it fit here, at least for the time being.

John Saul is a master storyteller and sucks in the reader from the very first chapter. This book is the story of a very dysfunctional family that is definitely not what it appears to be. The son, Matthew Moore, is the center of the story that circles around and around the murder of his stepfather. Of course, it may not really be a murder, but that is the crux of the matter, isn't it?

Bill Hapgood is/was married to Matthew's mother Joan. Joan had a sister, Cynthia, who is long dead. Unfortunalely for everyone concerned, Joan's mother Emily, is a bit off her rocker where the dead Cynthia is concerned. When Bill Hapgood dies, Emily moves into Joan's house, and everything that Matthew knew is turned upside down. Friends mysteriously disappear, murder is suspected and the finger points at Matthew. He experiences strange visitations when he sleeps.

His grandmother Emily, is a totally disruptive influence on him, his mother Joan and just about everyone she comes in contact with. As the story moves forward, very quickly, it becomes obvious that there is something dreadfully wrong with just about everyone in the book. But it is the ending that really takes you by surprise.

I have always enjoyed John Saul's books - that's why I bought this one, and I was not disappointed. He has taken great care with the characters: the reader immediately sympathises with Matthew and his predicament. Emily is a horrible shrew and is instantly hated by everyone, ther reader included. And his mother is a real piece of work. I particularly liked the dead sister Cynthia (maybe it was the name) and she certainly serves as the catalyst that sends Emily off the deep end.

This book is a real page turner - one you can stay up all night to finish. I did!