Thursday, September 24, 2015

When Bad Titles Happen To Good Books

Frankenstorm by Ray Garton, also including the novella "The Guy Down the Street" (2014): Great, fun, pulpy horror-thriller with a terrible title. An unlikely West Coast hurricane and a sinister government bio-weapon project team up to cause major problems for the citizens of Eureka, California, north of San Francisco. Ray Garton handles the multiple viewpoint third-person narration smoothly, cranking up the tension as the disparate plot threads begin to dovetail towards the conclusion. 

As pretty much always, Garton manages to work a social consciousness into the horrors and thrills. The bio-weapon team has been abducting homeless people from the Eureka area and experimenting on them in order to develop a viral weapon. 

Both the first chapter and various sections throughout generate sympathy for these unwilling test subjects, as well as for a working-class woman who also gets pulled into the terrible events of the novel simply because she needs money for her son's medical care. It's rare that a thriller can end with a solemn contemplation of mortality, but Frankenstorm does, and effectively. This is the sort of thrilling agit-prop we could use more of.

Nonetheless, thrills and surprises are paramount. Frankenstorm stirs a bunch of things that have often served as the plot-engine for a thriller -- a crazy cop, a conspiracy-busting reporter, a well-armed private army, a mad scientist, a hurricane, a child custody battle -- into the same pot. And it's delicious! This paperback edition also includes an X-rated version of the sort of American-suburban contes cruel that Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont created in the 1950's, "The Guy Down the Street." In all, recommended.


  1. Good to know that he's still got it. Will definitely check it out.