SCREAMS by Robert Bloch


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By the 72-year-old author of Psycho (1959), the first hard-cover publication of three suspense novels from the Fifties and Sixties. All appeared first in paperback and have been long out of print, although Firebug resurfaced this year as a Tor paperback. Despite styleless banality and thin characters, Bloch has a saving mastery of suspense and sense of fun. The Will To Kill (1959) features that familiar suspense staple, the periodic amnesiac who doesn't know whether or not he killed someone. Korean veteran Tom Kendall, suffering postwar blackouts, has set himself up as a dealer in stamps, coins, magazines, and secondhand books. A drinker, Kendall came out of a blackout holding a pair of bloody scissors and standing over his deeply melancholic, now dead wife whose throat had been cut. But he beats the rap and the coroner calls her death suicide. Now, in a blackout Tom has told his best friend that he would kill his new girlfriend Kit if she ever walked out on him--and she's walked. After a drunk, he wakes up beside a dead B-girl, her throat slashed. He knows he didn't do it--and the real murderer turns out to be a unique villain only Bloch's sly humor could make up. Firebug (1961) is an amusing but disappointing psychological thriller about a hot-tempered, fire-obsessed, firewater-drinking, fire-frightened reporter who can't handle fire even in its simplest form, such as a kitchen match--or bear to hear The Ritual Fire Dance. Guilt-ridden, he fears he's a budding pyromaniac--until he meets a true pyromaniac, a redhead, who really. . .sets him on fire. The Star Stalker (1968) takes advantage of Bloch's long ties with Hollywood and is a semiauto-biographical mainstream novel set in the Golden Era of the early Twenties. The killer who stalks a scriptwriter's social circle is mostly a coat-hanger for draping a social observation down the page and lending the silent flickers Bloch's soulful violin. Built-in audience, with Bloch in keen form.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Underwood-Miller