THE PEARLKILLERS: Four Novellas by Rachel Ingalls
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THE PEARLKILLERS: Four Novellas

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Four vaguely-chilly-to-deliciously-horrid tales, by the author of Mrs. Caliban (1982), I See a Long Journey (1986), and other novella/short-story collections. Again, Ingalls looses some twilit monsters of the mind--directly from our most snug and most smug attitudinal rituals. Like the works of Isak Dinesen and John Collier, Ingalls' eerie tales, marked by a mordant humor, have the dark gloss of the surreal, behind which the characters--just ""ordinary people""--learn to keep afloat on some increasingly enticing infernal winds. In ""Inheritance,"" Ingalls introduces the pearlkillers, who, explains an ancient aunt to smart businesswoman Carla, had skin that would shrink and wither pearls. Carla, determined to ""look up"" old forgotten relatives, will at last be welcomed to the South American, nastily feudal estate of great-uncle Theodore, who once, complained the aunt, whisked off ""Count Waiter's Treasure."" In the end, Carla will see the Treasure and so--brrr--will the reader. In ""Third Time Lucky,"" a young, twice-widowed Englishwoman, numb, washed of feeling, becomes ""magnetized"" by the culture of Egypt and, on a honeymoon there, is released from a dead self--and with a third death, a curse is broken. Murder can be so sensible and practical, although when it comes to ""People to People,"" there are ""no rules,"" muses the survivor of a group of good friends. In ""Captain Hendrik's Story,"" a husband and father sets off on a high-minded journey to South American wildernesses. Ten years later, he'll return (alone) wealthy, and resume a career as a gentleman and scholar. Eventually, though, his ten years of murder, robbery, con games with a homosexual lover, jail, etc. are revealed--as well as love for the partner who saved his life, the partner who will inconveniently show up. The solution is obvious. In ""Inheritance,"" there is a glimpse of a creepy castle's art gallery and a painting of centaurs, in a huddle, who ""appeared to be doing something singular, perhaps unpleasant, possibly unspeakably gross."" Enigmatic, occasionally brooding, each tale with a singular twist--this is shivery entertainment.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 1987
Publisher: Simon & Schuster