THE HAUNTED ONE by Jay Bennett


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From a prolific and successful author of suspense fiction, the story of a lifeguard who fails to rescue a drowning girl--with whom he happens to be in love--and then seems to be haunted by her ghost. High-school senior Paul does a fair job of living up to the high standards of macho head lifeguard Joe Carson, except for an occasional puff of pot; but when lovely dancer Jody Miller leaves the beach for a few days, he gets lonely and smokes a whole joint, just in time to be in a fog when she returns to surprise him, calls for help, and drowns. He's been having eerie premonitions all summer, but they are nothing to what follows: phone calls in her voice, seeing her at a distance, messages of love, sorrow, and finally revenge, all threatening his sanity. Written in the briefest of sentences and paragraphs, with plenty of terse, barely-communicative exchanges, this is approachable reading for older slow readers, who should be drawn by the suspense while missing the self-parody of the telegraphic, clichÉd style (""'It's good to be with you, Paul,' she said in a low and tremulous voice. And he realized how much and how desperately she cared for him""). The conclusion works well, though it may not be a surprise for more sophisticated readers; the message concerning the perils of pot is emphatic.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1987
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Watts