NIGHTMARE by S.K. Epperson


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The multiple-personality patients are the least dangerous inmates of Dr. Russell Guerin's ranch clinic--in this latest Kansas gothic from Epperson (Borderland, p. 6; etc.). When Dr. Guerin invites Bryan Raleigh, a psychiatrist who's developed a group-therapy program for multiples, to his isolated Flint Hills clinic to demonstrate the program, Guerin's grotesquely obese wife Augusta, the real guiding spirit at the clinic, persuades him to include Raleigh's journalist brother David in the invitation, even though the brothers have been estranged ever since the suicide of David's society wife. Also along for the ride are occupational therapist Kate Berquist; social-worker Melvina Kierkes; and David's Oprah-addicted parrot Frank. Even before their plane lands, the visitors have already discovered the first of a mounting pile of corpses--a multiple who turned out to be ali-too-susceptible to posthypnotic suggestion. As predictable romances blossom amid the gathering clouds--David duels the Guerins' antique-gun-collecting son Jay for blushing Kate, and self-avowed lesbian Mel finds herself wooed by a cowhand barely out of his teens--the secret behind the bumps in the night (mysterious self-mutilations; Mel's night in a charnel cave whose human contents have disappeared the next day; the real reason Augusta Guerin wanted David invited) becomes more and more firmly rooted in Epperson's trademark obsession with monstrously evil villains obsessed in turn with blood. For most of its length, this installment keeps its hysteria under tighter control than usual; it's only in the sanguinary denouement that its pulpish energy springs to the surface.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1992
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Donald Fine