cover image Swift to Chase

Swift to Chase

Laird Barron. JournalStone, $18.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-945373-05-3

Barron's fourth collection (after 2013's Shades of Blue and Gray), containing 11 reprints and one original story, will not disappoint fans of his trademark literate, unconventional horror. Few writers would have the imagination to transform the late performance artist Andy Kaufman into a figure of deadly menace, but Barron does so brilliantly in "Andy Kaufman Creeping Through the Trees," backing up the counterintuitive conceit with pitch-perfect execution that turns Kaufman's "dopey, amiable peasant smirk" into a chilling threat. The other entries are equally solid; for example, even readers who feel that they've had enough of slasher stories will find that Barron's "Termination Dust" has something to add to the subgenre beyond the usual shock and gore. He's strong on plot and really excels in creating an atmosphere of dread, even when dealing with common story elements, such as a haunted carnival, that could come across as clich%C3%A9d in lesser hands. (Oct.)