Jack Priest,
(Bootleg Press, 2005)

Jim Monday went to Vietnam, became an excellent soldier and did severe damage to the Viet Cong. He kept sane by playing Monopoly almost constantly. Then, the Viet Cong captured him, and he survived that ugliness by playing Monopoly -- in his head. When he finally was freed, he came home to the United States and played Monopoly on a big scale. He went into real estate, did very well and eventually went into politics. He also got married and was very happy.

OK, this is a horror story, so it can't end there. Actually, that's where the story starts.

Jim's wife falls in love with Dr. Bernd Kohler, a plastic surgeon, and wants a divorce. On the way to a meeting with his future ex-wife, her boyfriend and her lawyer, Jim hears a warning in his head just in time to avoid being struck by a car, which instead hits and kills his lawyer. Spotting Kohler, Jim tries to pummel him senseless -- which gets him incarcerated. But the police soon begin to believe Jim's suspicion that Dr. Kohler might have arranged the misaimed murder attempt might not be paranoia.

Still, we have no horror, just ugliness. Well, that warning voice in Jim's head belongs to Donna, a young Maori woman in New Zealand, who might be dead or very much in trouble of some kind.

By the time the story is done, a lot of people are dead in both the U.S. and New Zealand. Little green geckos are seen often, as is an enormous man-eating gecko. We encounter slave-trading, torture, pornography-makers and assassins. And behind it all is a generations-old Maori legend.

This is a well-written, very fast-paced story with interesting characters and some nice supernatural touches. Once you start, it's hard to stop. It is horror, and it's a fast, fun read.

Unfortunately, the violence is more graphically-described than necessary, pushing the story toward the edge of becoming a slasher story. The same is true for the sex scenes: they are more explicit than what I look for in a great story.

It is a good book, though. Have fun, keep the lights on and sell all lizards you happen to own!

by Chris McCallister
2 December 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.