cover image Secret Story

Secret Story

Ramsey Campbell, . . Tor, $25.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1616-5

Campbell provides a memorably ghoulish answer to the cliché question about where horror writers get their ideas in this suspenseful skin-crawler. Mersey Mouth magazine hopes to promote a local author through its fiction contest and believes it has found him in Dudley Smith, whose story submission vividly recounts a grisly subway murder. What they don't know is that the tale is more truth than fiction: Dudley, a secret psychopath, has for years been writing up his unsolved crimes as splatter thrillers for his own amusement. Enabled by a doting mother and egged on by oblivious publishers, Dudley immerses himself in his "Mr. Killogram" character and spends much of the story setting up editor Patricia Martingale as his next victim. Campbell deftly laces the grim events with subtle insights on the author's responsibility to his characters and the public's appetite for exploitation, which help make this one of his better nonsupernatural shockers. (June)