The Running Man
By Richard Bachman
First printing May 1982
This is one of those cases where the book is very different than the film. The film was made in 1987, five years after the first printing of the novel itself. King disliked the drastic differences so much that he demanded that his name not be used in the marketing of the film at all. This demand was adhered to and we were given what is often touted as one of Arnie’s best movies of that era, alongside with films like Total Recall (1990). However, if you know the true meat of the real story, honestly, he’d be one of the last people that you would cast for this role.
In the novel, Ben Richards is still the main character. But he is a broke man in his late twenties with a wife and an infant child of eighteen months. Times are very hard as the societal setup is very dystopian indeed. The regular people are poor and suffering in ways that one would never want to imagine.
For Ben Richards, he’s going through a particularly rough time. He’s been blacklisted from his own profession, leaving his wife to prostitute herself to try to make ends meet, as he’s unable to find employment. The cost of living is unfairly high and the work and pay are disproportionately unavailable and low to the average man in this idea of 2025. He’s barely able to keep himself together as they scrape by and then their baby girl, Cathy, becomes increasingly ill with the flu. With no money for medication or doctor visits Ben and his wife are forced to watch their baby suffer, unable to provide help or comfort.
The Running Man is a game show on the Games Network. The grand prize is one billion new dollars. There are two kinds of currency, old dollars and new dollars. Old dollars are easier to get but aren’t worth as much as new dollars. It also identifies you as poor when you spend it. Richards decides that with as bad as things are, they can’t really get much worse. He decides to sign up to be a contestant on The Running Man. But the rules are very different than what you might be familiar with.
First of all, the contestant is declared an enemy of the State. He gets a twelve-hour head start before the Hunters, which are skilled assassins (and called Stalkers in the film), are unleashed on him. For every hour that Richards remains alive, avoiding capture or death, he wins one hundred new dollars. He is awarded an additional one hundred new dollars for every Hunter or law enforcement officer he kills while on the run. He is let loose in the city, named Co-Op City, with his twelve-hour head start, $4800 new dollars and a pocket video camera. He is required to send in two video tapes each day of recordings of himself to the Games Network. He can say or do whatever he wants in these messages but if he doesn’t send them in, he’s disqualified.
He gets the one billion new dollars if he can make it an entire thirty days.
But it’s not just the Hunters after him, there is a penalty for being a citizen that helps a Runner and there is an enticing reward for turning him in. Once he signs up and the timer starts, it’s just Ben Richards against the world. An average man running for his life, for money on the hour, just to get out of poverty and get medical treatment for his daughter. And he’ll do whatever it takes.
The way this novel was written is so much more emotional and effective as a novel rather than a movie. While the film was an entertaining movie and I enjoy it very much, when I read this book, I found it was easy to get very emotionally invested in the outcome for Ben. King writes with such expert description the trials and tribulations, the injustices and the crimes, the hardship and suffering endured by Richards and his family, you can’t help but want to take a stand with him and root for him from beginning to end. King creates a classic every man character that is willing to sacrifice anything for his wife and daughter.
The novel still contains the much-enjoyed action and excitement that the film makes you expect, but it is so much better because the novel is incredibly more intense and dramatic. This plot is a genuine underdog story with the main character as the normal average joe trying to be a hero.
The novel is much more psychological, much more intense, darker, more dangerous, realistic violence and realistic characters. This creates a very personal aspect to this story that you don’t get in the movie. This is where the liberties taken by Hollywood not only disappointed Stephen King, but also take away the very essence of what this story is really all about. King wanted to write a story in which the main character was a common man. Not someone who is super athletic and the body builder type like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ben Richards is supposed to be the kind of character that could be any one of us. Just a regular average citizen struggling to make ends meet and tired of not being able to have access to basic needs like food, water and medical attention. It’s the daily strains of regular life that drive this man to his edge. In the film, even though Ben Richards is presented as the victim and the underdog he definitely doesn’t look like the underdog. However, in the novel, it is plain as day that Ben is no ex-military specialist with unique skills and training allowing him to overtake his few opponents. Instead, he is just a guy that needs money so badly that he is willing to have the whole multi-metro area of Co-Op City on his tail. In the movie, Ben goes through the game with friends. In the novel Richards is on his own from the start. Alone and on the run, trying to avoid death and being hunted down like a vicious rabid dog.
This is a story one could believe could actually happen, with the way this country keeps going, citizens giving up their rights one at a time for the illusion of security and safety. It brings into question how far a parent is willing to go for their child, how far a husband is willing to go for his wife. Now remember, in the novel, this story takes place in 2025. We aren’t quite there with how bad things have gotten. However, in oh, 500 years, if we are still around, life could be like this dystopian tragedy. After years and years of destroying ourselves, lying to each other, hating each other, giving away our rights to the government. We could one day end up in a world where things could be similar to anywhere from Demolition Man to Mad Max to The Running Man.
While in the movie the action is confined to the four quadrants, in the novel the action runs rampant through the city in every direction with every kind of person. Instead of presenting the novel in chapters we have a rather interesting countdown. We start at “Minus 100 and Counting…” and as we go through each scene or “chapter” it counts down to zero. This adds a lot of anticipation. Some chapters are less than a page. Some are several pages long. But, there’s action almost everywhere you turn. Something to make your jaw drop or your mouth utter “No way”, always keeping you on the edge of your seat, eager to turn the page before you have even finished reading it.
In my opinion, although the film is entertaining and a great action flick, The Running Man novel is by far better than the film. This is a novel that is a slightly different side of Stephen King, as he is writing as Richard Bachman, but the essence of King and his style is still very apparent and still makes the novel what I would consider one of his best and most classic pieces of work.
Nothing Good Happens After Midnight
Edited by Jeffrey Deaver
This was an altogether fantastic horror anthology sent to me by Blackthorn Book Tours. It is comprised of 13 stories all from different authors. Each author has their own unique style and take on what horror is. Some are what horror fans would consider true horror while a few others would be more considered maybe, drama/thriller.
As always, I scored this anthology the way I do all collections of this nature. I read and rate each story individually and then I take the average of ALL of those ratings to get the total rating for the book itself.
In the case of this collection, the ratings broke down like this (this is not in any particular order of the stories):
1/5- 1 story
2/5- 1 story
2.5/5- 1 story
3.5/5- 1 story
4/5- 3 stories
5/5- 6 stories
This gave me a total rating of 51/65 which is about 78%. A 4/5 rating is 80%. So, I have rounded up, like I usually do, to get to the 4/5 rating I have given this anthology.
The stories are very well written and cover all aspects of the horror genre. This assures that there is most likely something in this book for everyone. The subject matter of the tales includes police drama, intolerance, creepy midnight train rides, a very whacked out night shift at a local newspaper, cemeteries, precious artifacts, annoying neighbors and so much more. This is definitely one of the reasons I think this was so well put together.
I think one of my favorite things about this collection actually has nothing to do with the composition of the material. It’s the fact that the anthology is thirteen stories. Thirteen generally being thought to be an unlucky number, I find this a very nice and subtle yet effective touch.
I could easily recommend this anthology to any horror reader. While not every story will give everyone chills and goosebumps, there is certainly enough of both to keep one horror fan satisfied.
About the Authors
JOSEPH BADAL grew up in a family where storytelling had been passed down from generation to generation.
Prior to a long business career, Joe served for six years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army in critical, highly classified positions in the U.S. and overseas, including tours of duty in Greece and Vietnam, and earned numerous military decorations.
Joe is an Amazon #1 bestselling author, with 16 published suspense novels. He has been recognized as “One of The 50 Best Writers You Should Be Reading.” His books have received two Tony Hillerman Awards for Best Fiction Book of the Year, been top prize winners on multiple occasions in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards competition, received gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America, the Eric Hoffer Award, and Finalist honors in the International Book Awards.
He writes a regular column titled “Inspired by Actual Events” in Suspense Magazine.
To learn more, visit his website at http://www.josephbadalbooks.com/.
LINWOOD BARCLAY, a New York Times bestselling author and with nearly twenty novels to his credit, spent three decades in newspapers before turning full time to writing thrillers. His books have been translated into more than two dozen language, sold millions of copies, and he counts Stephen King among his fans. Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, a series has been made in France, and he wrote the screenplay for the film based on his novel NEVER SAW IT COMING. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he’s lived there ever since. He lives near Toronto with his wife, Neetha. They have two grown children.
RHYS BOWEN is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of two historical mystery series, as well as three internationally bestselling standalone novels. Her books have won multiple awards and been translated into over twenty languages. A transplanted Brit, Rhys now divides her time between California and Arizona, where she escapes from those harsh California winters.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, HEATHER GRAHAM, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over two hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas family fare.
She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty-five languages. She has written over 200 novels and has 60 million books in print. She has been honored with awards from booksellers and writers’ organizations for excellence in her work, and she is also proud to be a recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and was also awarded the prestigious Thriller Master in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA. Heather has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, Mystery Book Club, People and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including Today, Entertainment Tonight and local television.
Heather loves travel and anything that has to do with the water, and is a certified scuba diver. She also loves ballroom dancing. Each year she hosts the Vampire Ball and Dinner theater at the RT convention, raising money for the Pediatric Aids Society, and in 2006 she hosted the first Writers for New Orleans Workshop to benefit the stricken Gulf Region. She is also the founder of “The Slush Pile Players,” presenting something that’s “almost like entertainment” for various conferences and benefits. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.
ALAN JACOBSON is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fourteen thrillers, including the FBI profiler Karen Vail series and the OPSIG Team Black novels. His books have been translated internationally and several have been optioned by Hollywood. Jacobson’s debut novel, FALSE ACCUSATIONS, was adapted to film by acclaimed Czech screenwriter Jirí Hubac.
Jacobson has spent over twenty-five years working with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the DEA, the US Marshals Service, SWAT, the NYPD, Scotland Yard, local law enforcement, and the US military. This research and the breadth of his contacts help bring depth and realism to his characters and stories.
For video interviews and a free personal safety eBook co-authored by Alan Jacobson and FBI Profiler Mark Safarik, please visit www.AlanJacobson.com. You can also connect with Jacobson on Facebook (Facebook.com/AlanJacobsonFans), Instagram (alan.jacobson), Twitter (@JacobsonAlan), and Goodreads (alan-jacobson).
PAUL KEMPRECOS is the author of eight novels in the Aristotle “Soc” Socarides private detective series, including COOL BLUE TOMB, winner of a Shamus award from the Private Eye Writers of America for Best Paperback, and SHARK BAIT, nominated for a Shamus in the same category. Grandmaster of Adventure writer Clive Cussler blurbed: “There can be no better mystery writer in America than Paul Kemprecos.” Paul became the first fiction co-author to work with Cussler when they created and wrote the New York Times bestselling NUMA Files series. After collaborating with Cussler on the first eight books in the NUMA Files, Paul wrote two adventure novels including THE MINOAN CIPHER, nominated for a Thriller award by the International Thriller Writers. Paul lives on Cape Cod with his wife Christi, a financial advisor.
To learn more about Paul Kemprecos, check out his website at http://www.paulkemprecos.com/.
SHANNON KIRK is the international bestselling and award-winning author of METHOD 15/33, THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF VIVIENNE MARSHALL, IN THE VINES, GRETCHEN, VIEBURY GROVE, and short stories in four anthologies: THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD, NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT, and BORDER NOIR. Shannon is also a contributor to the International Thriller Writers’ Murderers’ Row. Growing up in New Hampshire, Shannon and her brothers were encouraged by their parents to pursue the arts, which instilled in her a love for writing at a young age. A graduate of Suffolk Law School in Massachusetts, Shannon is a practicing litigation attorney and former adjunct law professor, specializing in electronic-evidence law. When she isn’t writing or practicing law, Shannon spends time with her husband, son, and two cats. To learn more about her, visithttp://www.shannonkirkbooks.com/.
JON LAND is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 50 books, including the award-winning, critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series, the most recent of which is STRONG FROM THE HEART. He has also penned six novels in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series and has recently taken over Margaret Truman’s CAPITAL CRIMES series as well. He’s a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and can be reached at http://jonlandbooks.com/ or on Twitter @jondland.
JOHN LESCROART is the author of twenty-nine novels, nineteen of which have been New York Times bestsellers. Libraries Unlimited places him among “The 100 Most Popular Thriller and Suspense Authors.” With sales of over twelve million copies, his books have been translated into twenty-two languages in more than seventy-five countries, and his short stories appear in many anthologies.
John’s first book, SUNBURN, won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award for Best Novel by a California author. DEAD IRISH, THE 13TH JUROR, and THE KEEPER were nominees for the Shamus, Anthony, and Silver Falchion Best Mystery Novel, respectively; additionally THE 13TH JUROR is included in the International Thriller Writers publication “100 Must-Read Thrillers of All Time.” HARD EVIDENCE made “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List.” THE SUSPECT was the American Author’s Association 2007 Book of the Year. THE MOTIVE was an Audie Finalist of the Audio Publishers Association. THE MERCY RULE, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, THE SUSPECT, THE FALL, and THE RULE OF LAW have been major market Book Club selections. John’s books have been Main Selections of one or more of the Literary Guild, Mystery Guild, and Book of the Month Club.
“John Lescroart’s writing skills are a national treasure.”
—The Huffington Post
D. P. LYLE is the Amazon #1 Bestselling; Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Award-winning; and Edgar(2), Agatha, Anthony, Shamus, Scribe, and USA Today Best Book(2) Award-nominated author of 22 books, both non-fiction and fiction, including the Samantha Cody, Dub Walker, Jake Longly and Cain/Harper thriller series and the Royal Painsmedia tie-in novels. His essay on Jules Verne’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND appears in THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS, his short story “Even Steven” in ITW’s anthology THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER, and his short story “Bottom Line” in FOR THE SAKE OF THE GAME. He served as editor for and contributed the short story “Splash” to SCWA’s anthology IT’S ALL IN THE STORY.
He hosts the Crime Fiction Writer’s Blog and the Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction podcast series. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.
Learn more at http://www.dplylemd.com/.
Before his thrillers landed him on the New York Times bestseller list, KEVIN O’BRIEN was a railroad inspector. The author of 21 internationally-published thrillers, he won the Spotted Owl Award for Best Pacific Northwest Mystery, and is a core member of Seattle 7 Writers. Press & Guide said: “If Alfred Hitchcock were alive today and writing novels, his name would be Kevin O’Brien.” Kevin’s latest nail-biter is THE BAD SISTER.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 37 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. A USA Today bestselling author of 12 thrillers, Ryan’s also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. Critics call her “a master of suspense.” Her highly-acclaimed TRUST ME was an Agatha nominee and chosen for numerous prestigious “Best of 2018” lists. Hank’s book THE MURDER LIST is an Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee. Her newest standalone is THE FIRST TO LIE (Forge Books August 2020). The Publishers Weekly starred review calls it “Stellar.”
JEFFERY DEAVER is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He has served two terms as president of Mystery Writers of America.
The author of forty-three novels, three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, and a lyricist of a country-western album, he’s received or been shortlisted for dozens of awards. His THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND was named Novel of the Year by the International Thriller Writers association, and his Lincoln Rhyme thriller THE BROKEN WINDOW and a stand-alone, EDGE, were also nominated for that prize. THE GARDEN OF BEASTS won the Steel Dagger from the Crime Writers Association in England. He’s been nominated for eight Edgar Awards.
Deaver has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, the Strand Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award in Italy.
His book A MAIDEN’S GRAVE was made into an HBO movie starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, and his novel THE BONE COLLECTOR was a feature release from Universal Pictures, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Lifetime aired an adaptation of his THE DEVIL’S TEARDROP. NBC television is airing the popular prime time series, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector.
His latest novel is THE GOODBYE MAN, a Colter Shaw thriller.
SUSPENSE MAGAZINE was founded in 2007 on the premise that every author in the genre needed a platform to have a voice. From that original concept, Suspense Publishing was born in 2010 to publish high quality books in the suspense/mystery/horror/thriller genre. Suspense Publishing’s goal is to be a leader in producing the highest quality books in the genre.
The Healing Doll
By Bradley Poage
This story from the Bedtime Tales of Horror collection takes us on a journey through a world of superstition. Now, many people believe in many different things. In the USA, seven is the lucky number. In Japan, it’s thirteen. People believe in lucky rabbit’s feet and that they shouldn’t walk under ladders or let a pole or fence, etc. split a couple walking and holding hands, etc. We’ve all heard about black cats being unlucky and say, picking up a penny that is tails side up.
But there is a whole other world to what we call superstition and, in that world, it’s called faith and religion. Think of voodoo. Some of these practices the general public might cackle at, but others believe in them very deeply. Some people believe in the power of certain crystals or statues. In this story, the faith and belief are held about a doll. But this isn’t just any doll. It’s a special healing doll.
Now, if there’s one thing we all should have learned by now, it’s not to mock anyone’s religion. That never turns out well. And the bad is always more than you could have ever imagined.
Such is the case for a gentleman at an office who hasn’t been well. A coworker gives him the healing doll and special instructions. He’s happy about having the extra help and was even grateful that his coworker thought of him enough to worry about his well-being.
His girlfriend on the other hand, she’s not happy. She doesn’t like the doll, doesn’t want it in the house and certainly doesn’t like the fact that a woman gave it to HER man.
You put all this together and you have a voodoo recipe for destruction and disaster.
This story has a fabulous build up through the whole story. The ending is so fitting and so perfectly creepy that it just chills your soul. It’s the kind of ending that gives the reader one of those sinister smiles of satisfaction, as if we had a hand in the dirty work ourselves. It’s always a true joy to feel like you are right in the mix of everything with the main characters.
Surely this will be a tale that any horror fan can dig, especially with the added intrigue of voodoo and the dangers of dismissing certain powers.
THE DVD COLLECTION
By Bradley Poage
“Every morning Angelique goes for her run. But today a man will kidnap her and subject her to a fate worse than death. She will become part of his DVD collection. A fate no one would EVER want…”
This was by far one of the best stories I have read from this author. This story has all the elements of horror you could ask for. We have kidnapping, torture, a creepy bad guy that is eerily calm and collected. We have murder. We have sick and twisted obsessions that just can’t be ignored or brushed off.
Poage has taken to a new format, slightly changing the organization of his stories and how they are written. He has added chapters which are created at the perfect break point in the story to force you to keep reading into the next chapter. If you thought you’d seen some crazy stuff on TV or the news, please believe this story will easily rival any of that.
The suspense factor is so palatable it tingles your tastebuds and the tension so thick you could stab it with a knife. The fear and intimidation of our poor victim in this story is so intense, her pain and terror radiating through every paragraph and, at times, jumping off the page and slapping you right in the face…you know, just to make sure you are paying attention.
A fantastic short tale that would be perfect for any sleepover, camp out or even a little evil bedtime story. This is definitely one of the Bedtime Tales of Horror feature you will NOT want to miss.
This was another novel I anxiously requested to read from the people at Blackthorn Book Tours. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t for me. The good thing is that I really think I am missing something when I’m reading and so I think the true meat of the novel is getting lost on me. I’m not sure why this is, I just know that it wasn’t going to work out for me.
The blurb fully did its job and did it very well because I was beside myself ready to read this novel. Here’s the blurb:
About Netted – The Beginning
When a serial killer pulls Dale and Jessica into his world of torture and murder, they are left fighting to escape the clutches of a sadistic cult leader.
Dale simply wanted to rebound from a failed relationship. Now, he is fighting to escape abduction.
Jessica’s curiosity led her onto the dark web where she found The Silent Red Room Show. She admired the show from afar…until she found herself sucked in.
Will these perfect strangers survive the dark web? Or will they become a part of a vicious serial killer’s deadly collection?
Yet, as I read and read, the plot became less and less clear to me and I felt like nothing was making any sense or falling into place. Now, this novel is fifteen chapters. I read seven. By the time I started the eighth I still found myself wondering what I was reading and what was going on, trying to put it together as I read it but just couldn’t seem to get there. I also make notes in the margins when I am reading something so I can go back and refresh on what I’ve read, put my immediate thoughts down instead of trying to wait or coordinate them separately and so I can continue to put things in the story together so at any time it could be something I am able to summarize for someone else.
And still, like I said, seven chapters into a fifteen-chapter novel and I honestly couldn’t tell you the plot of the story. A lot of it seems like we are just following two messed up people in their messed-up lives. There’s mention of a serial killer in the blurb and seven chapters in I was still waiting for the killer to appear in the story. Also, seven chapters in, I was left wondering where all the horror aspects were. I mean, I’m approximately half way through the novel and no horror and no violence and this is supposed to be a horror novel. That was frustrating because I started to feel like the blurb was misleading or maybe a mistake and meant for another book almost. The largest part of the novel that I read that pertained to the Jessica character was a very long piece which seemed to be nothing but this Jessica chick complaining.
I read through chapter eight. I still didn’t know where this story was going and there was still nothing very horror to it in my opinion. So, I stopped reading it. I can’t spend so much time and effort on reading something that makes as much sense to me as it would if it were in Greek. My reading list for review requests in topping thirty or so titles and I’ve had to move on from some novels if they just weren’t clicking for me. I do think that reading eight out of fifteen chapters is giving the novel a fair try. It just wasn’t for me.
Because of this, it is very difficult for me to sum anything up or talk about how it’s actually written or address characters and plot, etc.
I do commend this author for their effort because I can at least tell that this wasn’t an easy piece of work to put together and complete. So, props to them for that.
But as far as a recommendation, I will just leave that up to readers to decide for themselves from the blurb. Maybe in reading the novel they will get something I missed. I do want people to feel like they can give this a chance. I just think a lot of the content matter may have been lost on me. So, keep in mind my rating is from my own personal experience reading the book.
About the Author
K.T. Rose is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog at kyrobooks.com and is the author of a suspenseful short story series titled Trinity of Horror, an erotic thriller novel titled When We Swing, and A Dark Web Horror Series. She also writes supernatural and paranormal horror novels and short stories.
By Damien Linnane
I asked for this book from the generous team at Blackthorn Book Tours. It was the blurb summary that really piqued my interest.
There were five now. The mugger, the sex offender, the wife-beater, the drug-dealer. And of course, Peter. Jason hadn’t needed a gun to kill Peter.
Jason Ennis doesn’t understand why the world is such a confusing place. Why it’s so difficult to read between the lines, so hard to understand what people want, such a struggle to fit in. Not that he isn’t trying as he works a dead-end job and chips away at a degree that’s going nowhere.
But good things come to those who wait. Sometimes, when he least expects it, he gets a chance to make a real difference. To make the world a better place. By removing someone else from it. Someone who doesn’t fit in with his standards of behaviour, someone who reminds him of how they scarred him as a child.
Scarred is not for the squeamish. A poignant debut about serial killers on the streets of Sydney, it explores the addictiveness of vengeance and the tragic mistakes made by the misguided.
Now, as a horror and true crime lover, how can you not want to read that????
But when I got the book, I was immediately disappointed. The format it is written in is almost like one HUGE paragraph. As the manuscript went on, the format DID get a little better. But it was difficult to read because there was little separation between thoughts and paragraphs, quotation marks were rarely used to identify dialogue, often leaving me wondering if the main character was thinking these things to himself or if it was a real actual conversation within the text of the story. The compressed and unclear format made it very challenging and somewhat frustrating to read. What frustrates me the most is that a simple click of grammar and spell check could have fixed about 30-40% of the issues. The rest could have been easily solved with using paragraphs to separate different trains of thought and subjects. If I had to call this style something, it is definitely written in the more ‘stream of consciousness’ writing method. And unless you are right in the mix with the author, sometimes that can be very disorganized and confusing.
Another frustrating thing about this manuscript was certain things about our main character Jason get repeated over and over, virtually in every chapter I read. Things like “he doesn’t like to be without his tactical gear or his gun” and other similar quirks. These are repeated so often it’s almost insulting to the intelligence of the reader (me) because it’s like, how many times do you have to tell me that in one story? Do you think I didn’t catch it the first ten or twelve times? Come on. I think I get what the author was trying to do, trying to make us identify with the character as an OCD and more militant type of individual. But it got to be where if I saw that phrase, I wanted to skip ahead to get away from it. I applaud and admire the effort the author made to make Jason real to us and put us in his mind and position, but at a certain point it just became like an overload of an audio track on repeat.
There also seems to be a lot of random information that doesn’t seem to apply specifically to the story and comes across more as filler material to bulk up the page count for the novel.
The story itself, AWESOME. At least what I could get through of it. I will admit freely that at about the halfway mark I simply had to stop reading and put it away. For me, reading is an enjoyable activity. Not one where I like to experience a whole lot of frustration or spending time deciphering what the author was intending.
This story is also not near for the faint of heart. It takes a lot to make my stomach turn and things of that nature. Being the child of a police officer, I was exposed to murder crime scene photos and some of the most horrible stories from the other officers on the squad and the ADA that was my Dad’s old partner on the police force. And there were still parts of this story that made me have to pull back and resituate my brain and emotions. To me that is extremely powerful writing. And it’s not done in a way that I think comes off as offensive. This author is using these events to make a statement for certain characters involved.
This story should definitely come with one of those ‘trigger warnings’ that I see splayed all over everything nowadays. It is truly a chilling story to read, just so hard to maneuver through. It is extremely violent including such ghastly crimes as murder, violent rape and sexual assault, general violence, child pornography, torture, kidnapping, revenge, punishment, psychopathy, sociopathy and even suicide. It’s as if the author was trying to include every horrible thing a human being could do to another human being all in one book.
While I wasn’t able to finish it myself, I can honestly say that if you want to dig in deep to the darkest parts of the human condition, this is a book for you. But be prepared for the horrors that await you because they are in fact there on every page.
About the Author:
Damien Linnane was born in Sydney in 1986. His debut novel, the vigilante justice thriller Scarred, was written by hand in prison while he was serving a two-year sentence for a series of crimes, including the firebombing of a home, with the sentencing magistrate finding that his motivation appeared to be ‘vigilante action’.
Since his release from prison, Linnane has completed a master’s degree in information studies. He also works as a portrait artist and freelance writer, and is in the finishing stages of writing a memoir.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/damienlinnane/ OR
Everyone Is A Moon
Author Sawney Hatton
Boy, this book was a challenge from beginning to end. Not all in bad ways. I received this book as one I requested to read from Blackthorn Book Tours. I, as most of my readers know, love anthologies. So, any time I get the opportunity to read any kind of short horror story collection, I’m on it.
This was unique because the author had hand-picked writings from over twenty-five years of writing. Can I just point out serious respect to the author for having that kind of devotion and conviction to their craft and passion? That right there is a WOW factor for me. As a writer myself I still have a box of stuff I wrote well over twenty years ago and I think it takes a lot of resolve and determination not only to make sure that kind of stuff stays safe over the years but also the pure guts it takes to go back and revisit earlier work. As an artist of any kind, sometimes going back to a previous creation takes you back to what inspired that creation and well, that’s not always pleasant. Some of the most precious and beautiful works that we consider the talent of someone truly gifted are also the results of some very tortured souls, and in more ways than one. So, I raise my fountain pen to this author with respect, from one writer by nature to another, you deserve recognition for the battle that is keeping your drive and work alive over the course of more than two decades. Mad respect.
Now, having paid proper and most assuredly deserved tribute, down to the review. As you all know, as with any anthology, not every story is going to be a hit and not every story will be well received by the audience because well, we just can’t please every single one of you out there, Which is a good thing. It shows the true diversity of individuals. Imagine how boring life would be if we all agreed on everything and everybody liked all the same things and there were no individuals to make life interesting and exciting and throw in the unexpected and the unique. So, with that in mind, I rated this anthology how I’ve rated the others I’ve reviewed. I read each story and rate it individually and then I take the average of the scores as the overall rating for the whole book.
There were three stories that got 5/5 ratings and really stood out to me. There were two stories that actually got 0/5 ratings, which is rare. I don’t do that a lot. One of them was a story that was nine pages, had five sentences and six, count them SIX blank pages. Now, I know what the author was trying to do because the story was about a blizzard and they were trying a visual and aural effect, but it didn’t work for me. I thought it was a good effort but it didn’t seem to have the desired effect for me.
This author seems to get tied up and lost in the innocuous details and not as much time on the meat and grit of the true horror. Which isn’t always a bad thing. I mean, Stephen King has been taking up whole chapters to tell you about the main character’s best friend’s friend who has a buddy whose cousin’s girlfriend’s parent’s business partner’s daughter’s boyfriend’s main rival likes to wear leather jackets by night and cashmere sweaters by day and then we get to go into detail of someone else’s life two hundred miles removed from the story and their dog and what kind of dog food the dog eats. I get it. But for me, it’s too much.
I love Stephen King and all but his long windedness and micro detailing can be a little tedious. But it also seems like this author seems a little reserved with their horror parts of their stories. It seems they like to imply a lot rather than actually give you the gruesome and gory details. An that’s okay but it does take away from the whole horror aspect of the story and the book somewhat. A few stories like The Good Touch, Cutting Remarks and FYVP were all very good stories and I was really pleased with those. I think those are the real highlights of this collection. The rest were mostly 3/5 ratings and 2/5 ratings.
In all honesty, I don’t think that this author is actually a bad author. I think the style just doesn’t click for me. But, nevertheless, I always give you guys my honest thoughts and there they are.
The total score for all thirteen stories was 35/65 which comes to about 54%. Now, that’s more than a 2.5/5 which is 50% and not quite the 3/5 which is 60%. So, I guess it’s about a 2.75 but since I never really rate like that, it’s a 3/5. I mean, come on. Let’s not get too bogged down in numbers and mathematics, okay? So, that would make this an average anthology. Nothing wrong with that. Pretty normal actually.
I hope if you choose to read it you do enjoy it! Maybe you are the audience it’s meant for!
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” —Mark Twain
From the devilishly inventive mind of Sawney Hatton comes this twisted collection of 12 Dark Fiction tales featuring a magical finger, a cannibalistic memorial, an extreme piercing parlor, a Space Age monastery, a budding serial killer, and more. Presenting three new, never-before-published stories, as well as re-mastered versions of earlier works, this collection is sure to disturb and delight readers who like to play in the dark.
‘Pet’: animal abuse
‘The Dark at the Deep End’: explicit torture
‘Suitable for Framing’: sexual assault
Not suitable for readers under 18
About the Author:
Sawney Hatton is an author, editor, and screenwriter. His published credits include the Dark Comedy novel Dead Size, the YA Noir novella Uglyville, and his Dark Fiction short story collection Everyone Is a Moon. His most recent novella The Devil’s Delinquents appears in the Noir-inspired anthology Murder in Montague Falls. He also edited the Sci-Fi Horror anthology What Has Two Heads, Ten Eyes, and Terrifying Table Manners?
Other incarnations of Sawney have produced marketing videos, attended all-night film festivals, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). He fancies himself as somebody you can relax and have a beer with, and encourages people to buy him beer in exchange for his company. As of this writing, he is still very much alive.
You can become better acquainted with him at www.SawneyHatton.com. You'll also find him lurking on Facebook and Twitter.
The Best New True Crime Stories Small Towns
Edited by Mitzi Szereto
This is another collection of true crime stores put together by Mitzi Szereto. Each story is by a different author making the flow and pace of the book different with each new crime you explore. The personality and personal experiences come through in each of the author’s chronicle the crimes of these individual very small towns.
And they are small towns. These are the towns that people joke about and say, “Don’t blink as you drive through or you’ll miss it.” (I live near a number of those towns.) And for some reason, people seem to think that the worst crimes or even just crime in general only happens in heavily populated, dense metropolises that are always buzzing with high diversity levels and every kind of business you can imagine open all the time, etc. Nobody ever thinks these kinds of things happen in a nice and quiet small town where everybody knows everybody. The kind of town that most families have someone that enters the “Famous Annual Best Squash Pie Contest” or something like that. The celebrate the first crop of the town and make Town Hall announcements of marriage instead of printings in newspapers or declarations online.
But the truth is, wherever there are human beings there will be crime and there will be crime of all sorts and on all levels.
In this particular book, which is a sister book to The Best New True Crime Stories: Serial Killers, we explore the crimes that left such kinds of small towns in a trembling wake after being terrorized by certain circumstances. Although this book was well written and I found it interesting, it wasn’t as satisfying or as captivating as the serial killer book. Some of stories came off as bland and at least one was more about the author himself than the actual crime committed or the town.
I had really been looking forward to this book after the serial killer edition had been such a success in my eyes, but once through this one I felt a little disappointed and let down. I think I also expected a different level of crime maybe. These just didn’t strike me as crimes so horrid and fascinating to be put under the heading of The Best New True Crime Stories. I think that title gives a very high expectation and for this particular book it fell just a tad flat for me.
Authored by Claire Legrand
When I got the offer for this novel, this was the summary and information that sparked my interest and got me thinking this might be something that could be cool:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn comes a breathtaking and spine-tingling novel about three teenage girls who face off against an insidious monster that preys upon young women. Perfect for fans of Victoria Schwab and Stranger Things.
Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: The newbie. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.
Zoey: The pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.
Val: The queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives; a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…until now.
So, when I received this novel, I put it on my reading list for review and anxiously awaited it.
Now I have tried to read it twice and I can’t get more than half way through it. It’s not that the story isn’t good. The story is actually pretty interesting and I must say, very unique to me. And I like the idea of the group of girls all having specific things, experiences, places in common. And I will admit there were definitely parts of this novel that made me shiver a little, parts that got me thinking about deeper issues and the paranormal and “the other side” and all that kind of fun stuff that we all love in horror and thrillers.
My problem with this novel is probably something that other will love. The structure. It goes back and forth between each girl and HER point of view, sometimes not returning to one particular girl for thirty, forty, fifty pages or so. This caused me to have to go back into previous “chapters” and try to refresh my mind as to where we were the last time Zoey was in the picture or the last time we dealt with Marion’s current issue, etc.
But, honestly, if it wasn’t for that, I could have gotten through the whole novel. It’s just that at 464 pages, I can’t keep going back and forth, it makes me feel like I’m studying for a college exam by reviewing the course textbook again like I did way back in the day.
So, truly, that is my only complaint. And to be honest, if the book were shorter it wouldn’t be a problem really because even in the beginning of the novel it wasn’t so bad. It was just as we got further in and more started to happen and you needed to remember more that it became more difficult. So, that’s the only thing that I can say took away from this novel.
Authored by M. F. Gibson
This is the blurb that got me interested in this book:
Meet Cloe and Elizabeth Yetti: antisocial, semi-homicidal eighteen-year-old twins casually surviving the AI apocalypse.
Ten years ago, a powerful machine intelligence unleashed a nanoengineered superdrug on humanity. Civilization is now a collection of mindless addicts confined to automated treatment centers that tower over drone-dominated cityscapes. Having escaped and grown up in the forests of Northern California alongside their younger brother and brilliant scientist/survivalist mother, Clo and El stayed safe while society collapsed around them.
But when a mysterious stranger and a demonic woodland creature appear and threaten their family, the twins are drawn back to a disintegrating, drug-addled San Francisco. There, biomechanical gods and monsters vie for control of what’s left of humanity’s consciousness. Armed with only a knife, an old hunting rifle, and their secret, cryptophasic twin language, Clo and El realize that surviving the apocalypse was just the beginning—now they’ve got to face it head-on.
The first book in the Babylon Twins trilogy, this epic adventure takes readers on a journey filled with sci-fi spectacle and darkly humorous twists and turns, not to mention some good old-fashioned butt-kicking.
Unfortunately, for me, that was where the real interest stopped. Now, I have tried three separate times to read this book and it just doesn’t hold my interest. Maybe it’s the post-apocalyptic thing, the weird childish names the girls have for their weapons, I don’t know. But even though I found some interest in the story, I just stay right on the edge of wanting to read this. I keep getting books that are more captivating, more interesting and this one just never makes it back into my hands to get finished. I just have no desire to find out what happens.
It IS the first book in a series about the two girls so hopefully for those that do read it, it will pick up. I have just found that it’s not for me. However, it’s not poorly written per se or anything like that. I think it’s more the futuristic subject matter that turns me off. It’s not as much horror mixed in as I had hoped.