Whisperer and Other Voices

Brian Lumley, Author Tor Books $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-87695-1
Though not strikingly original in theme, the nine stories in Lumley's first collection since A Coven of Vampires (1998) are as punchy and direct in their approach to horror as the author's blood-curdling Necroscope novels. Nearly all feature modern people reduced to primitive drives and fears when faced with territorial challenges from weird nemeses. In the title story, an impeccable John Bull type is driven to violence as he finds himself displaced gradually from barroom and bedroom by a grotesque little homunculus with fiendish hypnotic powers. ""The Disapproval of Jeremy Cleave"" is a black comedy about a husband so possessive of his wife that after death his glass eye and prosthetic leg noisily interrupt her lovemaking with other men. The desperate extremes people resort to when confronted with threats to all they hold dear is particularly noticeable in two Lovecraft pastiches: ""Aunt Hester,"" which tells of a family's struggles to fend off one member's formidable skill at exchanging personalities after her demise, and ""The Return of the Deep Ones,"" in which a marine biologist painfully discovers that he's descended from a semi-aquatic species. Though most of the stories showcase Lumley's familiar blend of O. Henry twists and gruesome shocks, ""No Sharks in the Med,"" an expertly modulated tale of mounting psychological suspense about a newlywed couple's struggle to escape pursuers on a private island, is the book's best selection. Fans in need of a regular Lumley fix will find the tone and temper of these tales satisfyingly consistent with his novels. (Feb. 6)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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