THINNER by Richard Bachman

THINNER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Billy Halleck, 38, is a ""fat Fairview lawyer whose wife. . . picked the wrong day to give him his first and only handjob in a moving car"": thus distracted, Billy takes his eyes off the road and kills an old, jaywalking Gypsy woman. Thanks to chummy police chief Dunc Hopley and cozy judge Cary Rossington, however, Billy isn't charged with negligent homicide--and seems, in fact, to have gotten off scot-free. . .until he starts quickly losing weight, then more weight, no matter how much he eats! Is it cancer? No way, says Billy's cocaine-snorting G.P. What is it, then? Well, no one (including wife Heidi) will believe him, but Billy soon becomes convinced that it's the Gypsy's Curse, laid on him by an angry old Gypsy. Furthermore, both police-chief Hopley and Judge Rossington have also been cursed--driven to suicide by a truly gross case of rampant acne (Hopley) and an alligator-like plating of the entire body (Rossington). So, now down to 137 lbs. from 246, headed for certain death, Billy rejects all medical theories and takes to the road--searching for the old Gypsy man, determined to persuade him to remove the Curse. The seedy trail leads to a Gypsy camp near Bangor, Maine: the old Gypsy (the dead woman's 107-year-old father) sneers at the now-skeletal Billy's pleas and threats; a young Gypsy woman shoots Billy through the hand with a ball-bearing. And, in agony and deathly frail, Billy now puts in a call for last-ditch help--to his fearless Mafioso buddy Richard Ginelli, who promptly arrives and terrorizes the old Gypsy (animal-killings, death-threats against children) into removing the Curse: Billy starts gaining weight again (while Ginelli is vengeance-killed). But, to keep gaining weight, Billy must feed the Curse--in the form of a creepy pie--to someone else; and when he returns to Connecticut planning to feed the curse-pie to wife Heidi (who's been disloyal), there's a nasty-twist windup. . .with curses for all. Even on its own terms, this grisly fantasy is often illogical or implausible (especially in the Ginelli section). And the premise--which seems more like short-story than novel-length material--is stretched out to predictable, somewhat repetitious length, with Billy an only half-appealing hero/victim. Still: lively, unpretentious horror overall, with a few genuine chills and more than a little of Stephen King's crude/disarming, contemporary zip.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1984
Publisher: New American Library