Cline's novels, though still lurid, improved considerably when in 1981 he turned from occult horror (Damon, Death Knell,...



Cline's novels, though still lurid, improved considerably when in 1981 he turned from occult horror (Damon, Death Knell, Mind Reader) to psychological terror (Missing Persons, Prey). This newest terror tale, evoking atrocities in the Colorado wilderness, is as pandering as ever but buoyed above exploitation by an involving plot line and some quick insights into the behavior of men and women under pressure. Although not stated as such, this story of a small-town family falling prey to depraved mountain men is clearly inspired by the real-life 1985 case of two California Survivalists who videotaped their torture and murder of women. Cline's Survivalists are two Vietnam vets, Borden Wilson and Richmond Bell; as the novel begins, Borden stalks tourists hiking near the Rocky Mountain hamlet of Gatlin Pass. Days later, he commits suicide when arrested for theft. At his cabin, three men--Gary Colter, an ex-big-city reporter now mired in rural life; Gary's teen son Mark; and the Gatlin Pass sheriff--discover snuff tapes. This find brings a test of character to both Colters, and the novel's inner heat: when a top novelist arrives to write about the killings, Gary must face his own failure and envy; and Mark runs up against weakness and greed when given the chance to make a quick buck by guiding tourists to the killing sight. But both these ordeals pale beside that of Gary's plucky grown-up daughter, Colleen, who, unknown to all, has been kidnapped and put on the snuff schedule by Borden's as-yet-undiscovered mentor, Richmond. In time, Gary deduces Colleen's plight and races to Richmond's isolated cabin; Mark, leaping into manhood, also helps in the rescue. A happy ending-marred only by the too-pat fall of the novelist, who's exposed as a snuff conspirator-ties things up. Psycho-terror fans looking for a slick read With a bit more weight than usual will be pleased; others will find the sleaze, however spruced up, difficult to take.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1987