cover image Graves, Caskets and Apple Pie 18-Copy Mixed Floor Display

Graves, Caskets and Apple Pie 18-Copy Mixed Floor Display

Various. Berkley Trade Pub, $131.82 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-425-22185-3

Those with weak stomachs will want to skip Little's latest shocker (afterThe Burning ), which dishes out blood, bowels, mutilation and rape with an unsettling knack for the truly repulsive. Parallel stories revolve around several bloody episodes in which previously respectable California businessmen turn into raving killers, torturing and slaughtering their families. Heroes Brian Howells, a journalist investigating a blood-stained letter from his estranged father, and Carrie Daniels, a social worker looking into a series of beastly birth defects, team up to find out what's behind it all. As Brian and Carrie unearth the secrets of families and friends, flashbacks tell the story of a 19th-century would-be gold prospector who discovers primordial, succubuslike beings swarming the Californian backwoods, beings that now stalk a present-day family on vacation. Little's swift prose jumps from one gut-twister to the next, providing an engrossing if familiar romp that ends in a messy Lovecraftian climax, which may prove too absurd for some readers to swallow. Despite shortcomings, Little again displays, with a plethora of gore and perversion, his robust ability to disgust (and delight) even the most seasoned horror enthusiast.(Aug.)