MASTER OF LIES by Graham Masterton


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 Cruel and unusual horror from Masterton (The Burning, 1991; Walkers, 1989, etc.). Be warned: Masterton's newest, about the ritualistic resurrection of the fallen angel Beli Ya'al in San Francisco, opens with what may be the single most sadistic scene in horror history. Retired cop Joe Berry and his happy family are enjoying a quiet evening when a giant in a horned mask bursts into their home, forces Joe and his wife to nail each other with railroad spikes to the floor and then their little kids to the wall, gloatingly slashes and rapes the wife, and sets the family on fire. This sadism isn't new to Masterton, who reveled in charred flesh in The Burning, but the excruciating detail here seemingly acknowledges no bounds and culminates in a soul-draining depiction of the giant mutilating the penis of a renowned psychic. All this nasty stuff is seeded into a fairly routine plot, with the giant--last remaining member of an outlaw 60's psychic cabal--performing bloody rituals to raise Beli Ya'al, source of unlimited power, and with stereotypical S.F. cop Larry Foggia assigned to track down the giant, a.k.a. the ``Fog City Satan.'' What redeems the story somewhat--aside from brisk pacing--is Masterton's genuinely inventive horror imagination, which sparks as Larry explores S.F.'s psychic underworld (and a couple of Play-Doh females) and encounters such oddities as hands that grow faces that speak; ectoplasm-eating entities that shrink a human into a husk in seconds; and, finally, Beli Ya'al himself, 12 feet of drop-dead gorgeous maniac brought back to life in a schooner long-buried beneath the city's landfill. Masterton has talent, but here it's going mainly to toxic waste.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-85102-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1991


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