cover image Scared Stiff: Tales of Sex & Death

Scared Stiff: Tales of Sex & Death

Ramsey Campbell. Scream Press, $25 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-910489-17-1

Etchison is one of our best horror short story writers, achieving his chilling effects by weaving together almost disparate sinister elements: a barely heard sound, the look of a street, a memory. This collection, his third, contains 13 stories; most are good, and some quite frightening. In ""Call 666'' a man whose life is disintegrating after a breakup with his emotionally disturbed lover stumbles upon what may be an order-by-phone murder service. In ``The Spot'' a professional apartment cleaner, repeatedly confronted with the dead ends of other people's lives, begins to see intimations of his own future. ``The Soft Wall'' concerns a man whose marriage has become unbearable; in an hallucinatory nightmare, from which he never escapes, he dismembers his wife. ``Bloodgame'' tells of a TV game show host whose life is ingeniously undone by the daughter of a man whom he had destroyed decades before. And in ``Home Call'' a social worker makes the huge mistake of not heeding her own disturbing intuitions. (January 25)