cover image TRAUMA


Graham Masterton, Author . Signet $6.99 (218p) ISBN 978-0-451-

Within the span of a couple hundred pages, prolific horror writer Masterton (Spirit; The Manitou, etc.) successfully spins an entertaining, fast and disturbing read packed with dramatic tension, tightly drawn characters and realistic dialogue. Bonnie Winter sells cosmetics for Glamorex of Hollywood Inc. and runs her own business cleaning up domestic crime scenes. The creepy task becomes even worse after she discovers infestations of maggot-like, black caterpillars at her clean-up sites. A local entomologist confirms that the caterpillars grow into Clouded Apollos—large butterflies with white, black-veined wings. In Aztec culture, the insect is considered the daytime disguise of a demon named Itzpapalotl, who drives people to kill their loved ones. Indeed, each of the scenes at which Bonnie finds the insects involves family members killing each other. Masterton's descriptions of the grim crime scenes are intoxicating (a man's blown-off head had "fallen backward so that, juglike, it had emptied its blood all over the floor") yet never gratuitous, and he neatly intertwines the Clouded Apollo story line with the saga of Bonnie's lackluster home life and budding affair with her Glamorex boss. As the novel draws to a close, the two plot threads converge, triggering a sequence of events that is both chilling and tragic. (Jan. 8)