LETTERS FROM THE DEAD by Campbell Black

LETTERS FROM THE DEAD

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A satisfying dank and creepy chiller, about a haunting and possession by particularly unsavory ghosts, in and around an isolated beach house, where two women and their 13-year-old boy and girl have come vacationing. Along with the venerable horror staples--from Ouija board pronouncements to startling spectral appearances--there's a reenactment of a 66-year-old crime of sexual perversion slimely underway. Away from the hustle and bustle of Syracuse, New York, come photographer Rosie and daughter Lindy and would-be writer Martha and son Tommy. The women are initially amused by their rented-sight-unseen crumbling beach house several miles away from the tiny town of Cochrane Crossing--one bar, one church (where unseen children are singing dismal songs), and one grocery store, where. . .did Rosie spot maggots turning in the cold cuts? Surely not! The vacationers arrive June 16th and just barely crash out of town on the 21 st, racing for their lives. In between, the women will be treated to: a mirror in the town bar of ever-so-friendly villagers which reflects nothing; a child in a yellow raincoat who vanishes; a silhouette of a man in the cottage; and one of Rosie's photographs in an old town house. While the mothers are catching glimpses of astral nasty, Tommy and Lindy, via a closet door that won't stay closed and that Ouiji board's sinister chatter about a ""Roscoe,"" seem to be targeted for evil. But it's Lindy who will be slowly, inexorably possessed--thanks to those ghostly caresses which stir raging pubescent urges, and the siren call of a man and child beneath the trees. Finally one night, in Tommy's room. . .abruptly, Martha, Rosie, and Tommy will know it's time to hightail it back to Syracuse, and they'll crash through a circle of advancing headlights and shadowy villagers in a boffo finish. Black, who also writes under the name of Thomas Altman, has strung together some old ghosting chestnuts with his unusually competent suspense action. The result: a brisk and seaworthy horror tale.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1985
Publisher: Villard/Random House