A collection of twenty-two short horror tales includes the work of Stephen King, Charles Grant, and Jane Yolen.
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The late, great Robert Bloch (author of Psycho) was a master of macabre humor: he was fond of clever, grisly one-liners, often used as twist endings. He also liked to write about psychotic and psychopathic killers. This solid anthology, put out by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and completed after Bloch's death, honors his legacy with 22 tales about murderers and crazies of various stripes. A good many of the stories, most memorably Esther Friesner's "Lonelyhearts," have Blochian twists at the end. The weakest of the bunch have no other flaw than predictability, and the strongest, such as Ed Gorman's powerful "Out There in the Darkness" are classics of traditional storytelling. You'll find excellent stories here by Denise M. Bruchman, Del Stone Jr., Edo van Belkom, Gary A. Braunbeck, and others. Stephen King contributes a little gem of a tale in which the narrator finds himself in an autopsy room: "It fits. It fits everything with a horrid prophylactic snugness. The dark. The rubbery smell.... Dear God, I'm in a body bag."
Note: the two previous HWA anthologies are Under the Fang, edited by Robert R. McCammon, and Peter Straub's Ghosts, edited by Peter Straub. --Fiona WebsterFrom Kirkus Reviews:
Showcase horror anthology: 22 original tales by Stephen King, Charles Grant, Ed Gorman, Richard Christian Matheson, and lesser lights, presented by the Horror Writers' Association. No piece by Bloch himself, alas, and no preface to explain how the book came about, although it apparently honors the famed penman and smiling motherstuffer of Psycho himself, this perhaps being Bloch's last chip, or--as the bouncy, irrepressibly loopy Master himself might pun--his last time around the Bloch. (Indeed, it was Bloch who, at 77, wrote in his unauthorized autobiography: ``Why anyone would want to be known as the author of Psycho is beyond me.'') King leads off the sheaf with a tour de force, ``Autopsy Room,'' a first-person tale about a golfer in a body bag who died on the course and is wheeled into the medical examiner's for an autopsy. Grant's ``Haunted'' tells of a knife-wielding killer who haunts a park and steals victims' faces. In Gorman's ``Out There in the Darkness,'' four middle-aged poker players kill a burglar whose escaped buddy then begins killing them. Matheson's first-person ``Please Help Me'' is truly scary: Three robbers of a 24-hour market take a hostage, bind and gag him, throw him into their trunk, and drive off. His fate would satisfy Edgar Allan Poe--dig? Dipped in deep purple, Denise M. Bruchman's ``The Lesser of Two Evils'' shows what happens when a mass murderer of prostitutes goes to a gypsy witch to have the ghost of Jack the Ripper extracted from his body; little does he know that the gypsy collects the blood of mass murderers, including that of the top one of this century. Jane Yolen's ``A Southern Night'' puts a new twist on the Susan Smith murders of her children. Nice stuff, but not a story rises above narrative and strives to be as stylish and memorable as Lovecraft, Poppy Z. Brite, or like masters of a fearful eloquence. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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