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.

2 comments:

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

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