cover image The Spirit Box

The Spirit Box

Stephen Gallagher, . . Subterranean Press, $40 (276pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-017-3

In Gallagher's white-knuckle thriller, his first full-length novel since Red, Red Robin (1995), several experimental drugs have been pilfered from a North Carolina research lab and suspicion points to employee Rachel Young. Manager John Bishop investigates the theft to preserve the facility's reputation for security, but he has another motive: the day before, his troubled teenage daughter committed suicide, and some inexplicable experiences since hint that her influence is compelling his involvement. Whether John's experiences are truly supernatural or merely guilt-fueled fantasies is never clear, and Gallagher uses the tension this creates to masterfully propel his story forward to a harrowing finale. Gallagher's hard-boiled style is pitch perfect for the tale's grim events, but he leavens it with dislocating moments of powerful emotion that draw the reader irresistibly to the characters. The novel packs a wallop that should make an impact on fans of both suspense and horror fiction. Agent, Howard Morhaim . (Nov.)