cover image They Thirst

They Thirst

Robert McCammon. Subterranean (, $80 (616p) ISBN 978-1-59606-562-8

Apocalyptic catastrophe collides with deeply intimate fears in this hardcover incarnation of McCammon’s 1981 paperback horror novel. L.A. homicide detective Andy Palatazin’s search for “The Roach,” a serial killer, entangles him in a plague of folklore-inspired supernaturalism that mirrors—and lends a more palatable face to—the human sleaze and nihilism upon which it feeds. When coffins are robbed at Hollywood Memorial, the fates of reporter Gayle Clarke, photographer Jack Kidd, and Det. Palatazin are irrevocably interwoven with the mentally disturbed Walter Benefield and an army of soul-damaged Outsiders. Personal culpability and domestic tensions are juxtaposed with Old Testament morality, anchored by minute detail and sensuous atmosphere. Pathos and tragedy reverberate beneath bawdy sexual tension and violence in a seamless fictional cocktail for genre devotees. As readable today as when first published, this savage yet elegant shock show succeeds as crowd-pleasing storytelling as well as a time capsule of the 1980s horror aesthetic. (Nov.)