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One of last year's more memorable horror novels was Garton's Live Girls, a stylishly sleazy paperback original about vampires operating out of Times Square porno parlors. For his first hard-cover (in which a heavy-metal Pied Piper seduces teens' souls), Garton continues to slather on the sleaze--but with far less pizazz. Jeff Carr's teen-age life is one big mess. He's a nerd with crooked teeth, he lusts for his blond goddess of a big sister, Mallory, and, unbeknownst to him, his mom strips and makes dirty phone calls for a living. In fact, he's just the sort of poor slob that a writer looking for a cheap target might want to torment. And torment him Garton does, by conjuring up in Jeff's suburban L.A. hometown a slick stranger named Mace. Mace claims he's just a guitarist/songwriter looking to form a new rock band; but by the time Jeff notices that he's always surrounded by unearthly, rat-like critters, and has an extra-long tongue that can do nifty things like perform an abortion on a pregnant teen, Jeff's pretty sure that Mace isn't your run-of-the-mill rocker. And Jeff's right; for, as Mace later confesses, ""I am the weeds in your garden. . .I am the moldly bowl of goo. . .on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator."" The white knight who sponges up this evil glop is Jeff's high-school guidance counselor; but before J.R. Haskell goes to work, Mace manages to: seduce most of the town's teens, including Jeff's sister, into a perpetual drug/sex orgy; maneuver Jeff and his sister into having sex together; snuff out a few adults with the help of his pet critters; and talk many of the teens into committing mass suicide, à la Rev. Jim Jones, by slashing their own throats. Buried somewhere here is a moral about parental responsibility for wayward youth--but to search for it, protective clothing is advised.

Pub Date: June 11th, 1988
Publisher: Dark Harvest (P.O. Box 941, Arlington Heights, IL 60006)