by John Coyne ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 22, 1987
Like C. Terry Cline (reviewed above), Coyne has abandoned occult fiction (The Piercing, 1978; The Searing, 1980; Hobgoblin, 1981)--first for a family saga (Brothers and Sisters, 1986) and now for a psychological thriller. But unlike Cline's, Coyne's work continues to thicken, bottoming out in this leaden tale of city folk terrorized in the Catskills by clans of savage inbreds. Coyne's lackluster heroine here is 30-ish April Bernard, Columbia U. anthropologist and new wife to hotshot lawyer Marshall. In the first of this novel's abundance of absurdities, the couple move for the summer into a house on the Catskills' Mad River Mountain--despite the trauma of April's having lost hubbie #1 in a car crash in that wild terrain; in fact, she's eager to settle in, to begin her study of the mutant clans (""small, dark and wiry, with flat, blunt noses, large watery pink eyes, and enormous, pumpkin-shaped heads"") who live on Mad River. Up north, the family--including April's young son, Timmy, and Marshall's teen daughter, Greta--meet the house's caretaker, sexy hunk Luke Grange. Coyne at first tries to make Luke loom as a dangerous character--he ogles the women, argues with Marshall, and peers into windows at night--but, perhaps sensing that Luke just doesn't cut the mustard of evil, conjures up a new villain: Marshall (a grandson of a clan member), who for confused reasons goes on a murderous rampage along with packs of the ""pumpkin heads."" (This after Coyne picks up, then drops, a momentary occult tack that makes as little sense as the rest of his plot: unnatural, nocturnal creatures lurk outside Timmy's window.) Marshall and pumpkinoids ravage and savage a few of the neighbors, then turn on April herself; but once they're assembled in her house, the clever anthropologist sprays some oil, lights a match, and watches as the fire corners the mutants, ""setting them all on fire."" Just like that--it's never been easier to be a heroine. This may not be the clumsiest terror thriller of the 80's, but it sure gets honorable mention.
Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1987
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987
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