James Herbert, Author Forge $25.95 (503p) ISBN 978-0-312-87293-9
Herbert's reputation as the king of British horror is founded on his early gore-oriented ""nasties"" (The Rats; The Fog; etc.). His newest novel (after '48) packs powerful shocks, but continues the recent trend in his writing toward narratives steered by the complex motivations of his characters. Narrator and private investigator Nicholas Dismas--""Dis"" to his friends--is a self-described ""monster,"" afflicted with grotesque birth defects that give him uncommon insight into human behavior. But the search for a child declared dead at birth 18 years before triggers a befuddling cascade of events that defy even his understanding: birth-record traces lead to dead ends, knowledgeable authorities can't be located and Dis finds himself haunted by visions of malformed souls that periodically materialize in his mirror. Collaborating reluctantly with Louise Broomfield, his client's psychic adviser, Dis tracks a suspicious former midwife to the Perfect Rest nursing home. There, he encounters both the repellent Leonard Wisbeech, one of the most diabolically perverse doctors in all medical horror fiction, and secret experiments that shed light on the case and on Dis's own obscure origins. Readers who stick with this tale past its lethargic start--in which Herbert labors to contrast Dis's normalcy and the ""ugliness"" of more physically appealing people--will find a payoff in the over-the-top climax, in which the freak show Wisbeech secretly presides over runs amok. Though punctuated with long expository passages that explain the novel's central mystery, the finale crackles, finding an admirable balance between terrors of the supernatural and the darkness of the human heart. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-330-37612-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-333-76586-9
Compact Disc - 3 pages - 978-0-230-70437-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7540-0439-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 480 pages - 978-0-8125-7904-8
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-330-52269-4
Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-0-330-46908-1
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