cover image The Quorum

The Quorum

Kim Newman. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $21 (311pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-0132-2

Fans of ``Deal with the Devil'' stories ought to be delighted with this fifth novel from British horror writer Newman (Anno-Dracula), which brings a new twist or two to the genre. Be advised, though, that supernatural elements play second fiddle to social satire in this fast-paced tale: it's no accident that the ``Devil'' here is a media mogul or that those caught in his web are involved in film, books, TV and, especially, comic books. The victims are four young men with high aspirations who become inseparable friends in school. In 1978, as they are approaching adulthood, three of them-Mike, Mark and Mickey-are offered a deal by Derek Leech, head of a vast media empire. Their future success will be ensured, but they must offer Leech pain in return-not their own pain, but that of their absent friend, Neil. Accepting the terms, the three prosper over the next 15 years, all the while working together to bring travail into the failed life of their former comrade. But, when a private investigator hired by the trio to keep track of their victim becomes suspicious, things begin to fall apart. In deals with the Devil, as we all know, whatever goes around comes around: moral enough for this fine and funny romp. (Oct.)