cover image Black Evening

Black Evening

David Morrell. Cemetery Dance Publications, $40 (345pp) ISBN 978-1-881475-85-9

Though best known for his high-action thrillers, Morrell has traveled many side roads in his long writing career--horror novels, westerns, even a highly personal account of his teenage son's losing battle with cancer. Now, he offers up a generally intriguing but uneven collection of 15 short stories written over a 20-year period ending in 1992. Many of the entries here are vintage Morrell, featuring dark themes, dark humor, bursts of action, a setting that's slightly askew and a main character driven by fear. ""The Typewriter"" tells of a writer's panic when his magic typewriter no longer turns out bestsellers. ""At My Back I Always Hear"" is a haunting account of a college professor (which Morrell once was) stalked by a student. The best of the stories showcase Morrell's ability to capture pure, hard-driving suspense, often culminating in unspeakable tragedy or bizarre discovery. These include ""Orange Is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity"" and ""The Beautiful Uncut Hair of Graves."" The weaker links among the entries are those with a decidedly creepy bent representative of Morrell's horror period. Among them are ""The Dripping,"" Morrell's first published work; ""Black Evening""; and ""For These and All My Sins."" Even the less successful stories, however, have a gripping quality--some twist or mood that drives the plot forward and locks a reader's attention. Morrell (The Brotherhood of the Rose) prefaces all the stories with personal anecdotes and other autobiographical reflections that place them in a meaningful context. In a foreword and afterword, Morrell talks about his career thus far. (Jan.)