cover image Scare Tactics

Scare Tactics

John Farris. Tor Books, $17.95 (310pp) ISBN 978-0-312-93085-1

Farris's latest collection consists of a short story, a novelette and a novel. The clever, if predictable, story, ``The Odor of Violets,'' tells of an author who steals another's brilliant unpublished manuscript on the day of its creator's death. The thief publishes the novel under his own name and basks in glory until the dead man's muse cooks up a nasty bit of poetic justice. The novelette, ``Horrorshow,'' is a good deal better, even if the ending isn't totally credible. Concerning the murder of a girl and the discovery of her murderer by a psychic who is himself accused of the crime, it is full of original characters and memorable moments. The novel, The Guardians, is set in the early '60s and bears evidence of having been written then, before Farris became proficient at the craft. The pace is leaden and the plot unnecessarily complicated; the effect is tedious. Altogether, a very uneven collection. (July)