DARK DEBTS by Karen Hall


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Gripping, much heralded horror debut novel by top TV scripter Hall.

The five years Hall spent on writing, revision, and deep research reap big rewards for the reader in this very serious (and spiritual) shocker. The story: A dark debt, or curse, hangs over the family of a Georgia ex-Satanist. The Landry family has been working off this debt, unbeknownst to its infected members, with insanity, suicide, robbery, murder, and even mass murder. Cam Landry, a reclusive young Los Angeles crime writer who has just signed a publishing contract for $300,000, suddenly goes berserk, robs a liquor store, kills a clerk, then commits suicide. Cam's ex-lover Randa, a journalist for an alternative newspaper, wonders what could have provoked this senseless deed. Romance blooms when the determined Randa goes to the town of Barton, outside Atlanta, to talk with the last surviving Landry, hermit Jack, who knows that insanity, murder, and perhaps suicide likely await him as well. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Father Michael Kinney, a sexy young Jesuit who edits a far-out Catholic magazine, falls for Tess, a lapsed-Catholic New Yorker editor, when she has him write a piece about an adolescent who murdered his family after an exorcism Michael helped administer failed. Michael, it turns out, is related to the Landrys and is also being stalked by the family curse. Then, fired from his magazine job and exiled to a Georgia parish, Michael meets Jack Landry. Will Michael save Jack, then give up his Roman collar and marry Tess? Can he survive when the same demon gnawing at Jack also goes after him? And why doesn't God help Michael fight the demon?

Hall's soft-bang climax has a cliched ring, but even readers skeptical of demonology will find themselves beguiled by her stringent arguments and research, all set off by strong characters and witty dialogue. (First printing of 150,000; film rights to Paramount; Book-of-the-Month Club featured selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-45146-3
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1996


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