GHOUL by Michael Slade


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Slasher horror plummets to its nadir in this sadistic tale of serial murder from the trio of authors--two of them Vancouver attorneys--who wrote under the Slade pseudonym when purveying 1985's blood-fest, Headhunter. Slade gets right to the nasty point here, opening with the burying alive of a teen. age boy and following with the axe-murder of a young woman, latest victim of three killers terrorizing London: the Vampire Killer, the Sewer Killer, and Jack the Bomber. In brief blackout scenes, Slade shows the three madmen at work and intercuts to the efforts of Scotland Yard detective Hilary Rand to solve the crimes; patent textbook lore (""Modus operandi plays an important part in police investigation. . ."") embroiders the stark accounts of killing and gumshoeing. Slade then shuffles in action from Vancouver, where Mountie Zinc Chandler pursues Ray Hengler, a heroin and porn broker who's promoting a punk-rock group known as Ghoul. Hengler proves a dead end, but the rock group challenges the macho Mountie as his tail of Hengler turns up the remains of a body bathed in acid: Ghoul's singer Rika Hyde? Her older and wealthy half-sister Rosanna Keate? A dalliance with a sexy FBI agent and yet another Keate family member punctuate Chandler's investigation, which, intercut with Rand's and with further London violence, in time takes the Mountie to the English capital. There, his path crossing with Rand's, Chandler pinpoints the lair of the creature ultimately responsible for both the London and Vancouver killings--after wading through a charnel house of blood and torture. A few scenes prove suspenseful here, but for the most part tissue-thin characters only flutter in the hot air generated by Slade's frantic juggling of his overly complex plot lines--and in his incessant wallowing in tortures that would make de Sade wince. A sloppy, shameful novel.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1987
Publisher: BeechTree/Morrow