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The Latest in Horror Entertainment
In this issue: 9 pages of reviews, covering Film Reviews • US Horrors including Halloween H20 and Urban Legend Book Reviews • Demon, Peter James’s Denial, 100 Best Horrors and Greasepaint and Gore, featuring the work of Hammer make-up artist Roy Ashton Video Reviews • Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder and the conclusion of Season One of Millennium, plus, on DVD, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Craft TV Reviews • Ultraviolet and the conclusion of Season Two of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, still unseen in the UK.
Book Review
Denial by Peter James
Published by Orion
403pp £9.99 tp/b
selected from Shivers #59

Peter James' DenialWhat makes a good thriller? There are certain authors who have turned the humble thriller into a virtual art-form. There are others who have managed to combine Horror and human Angst into a potent mix of genre novel and mainstream work. Thomas Harris managed this with the seminal The Silence of the Lambs, Stephen King and Dean Koontz have achieved it with several novels, and with Denial, Peter James firmly stakes his claim to the territory.

Thomas Lamark’s mother was, in her past, a film idol. In the present she clings to her memories and brings young Thomas up as a virtual recluse, denied all form of interaction with the outside world. Not knowing any better, Thomas accepts this unhealthy way of life until the day that his mother dies in bed. This event triggers in Thomas a deep-rooted need to blame others, and the prime focus of his anger is the psychiatrist Michael Tennant who should have helped his mother. Tennant will have to learn a lesson about life, one planned out and executed by Thomas Lamark.

With this simple scenario, James presents a novel of brutal effectiveness. Tennant is blissfully unaware of Lamark’s obsession with him, until his girlfriend simply vanishes. That she has been snatched by Lamark is known only to the reader, and this unstable character has already kidnapped and tortured to death several other people for minor and perceived crimes against his mother.

With more than a shade of Hannibal Lecter in the finale (perhaps a little too much homage there?) Denial cracks along at a roller-coaster pace. As Tennant edges his way closer and closer to Lamark, together with the police investigating another of Lamark’s victims, and Lamark planning the death of Tennant’s girlfriend, the novel becomes (in a word) unputdownable. This is brilliant stuff: with great characters, reacting in a realistic and believable way to pure and brutal evil. If you’re a fan of Harris, King or Koontz, then add James to your list of must-read authors.

David Howe