Featured Book Review: Killing Your Boss
Killing Your Boss was a great horror serial killer read. The author, James DeSantis did a marvelous job with this short story that had many twists in it. I like how the author describes each character on their own page. James was very descriptive with his writing to the point…
Final Shadows - Charles L. Grant Horror Book Review
Horror books Review
Final Shadows is a collection of 36 stories published in 1991, all by different authors, some by big names and some by authors you’ve probably never heard of. Like any multiple author collection the quality of the stories within varies greatly. There are masterpieces or ones close to that, but you’ve also got a few which aren’t much more than a waste of time.
I’ll start my reviews of these stories with the best ones (undoubtedly you may well disagree with my order, but that’s fine, to each their own) but if you haven’t been able to track down Final Shadows, at least you’ll know what they are about.
Magpie, Stephen Gallagher - Author recounts his school days as a fat kid and how a bully got his comeuppance. Some great plot idea stories included through the child character’s imagination. If Gallagher has actually written any of these I’ll definitely check them out.
A Father’s Dream, Chet Williams -the tale of a father who has a nightmare about his son lying dead in the street outside an unfamiliar house. When he goes on vacation to his brother in law’s house he immediately recognises it as the one from his dream. Instead of dragging his family away and looking stupid he decides to just take precautions such as not letting his son play at the front of the house.
Together, David S Garnett - Adam’s unemployed wife is becoming more and more lazy, and less interested in him. She never leaves the house, which they can ill afford now with just one income. Adam soon becomes suspicious that she is having an affair.
I’ll See You on Saturday Night, Gun N Smith follows Jerry an ugly small town mechanic who is infatuated with the beautiful Isabel. When he buys some sunglasses from her she mentions she is going to a dance on Saturday night. She tells him I’ll See You on Saturday Night and Jerry of course tells everyone he has a date with her.
Beijing Craps by Graham Masterton follows a compulsive gambler of over 20 years who last saw his son when the child was 3, never having left Vegas casino floors since. He’s won a lot of money but there’s a new game in town where you bet to take years of your life or lose them if you do.
Samhain, Bernard Taylor - Doris has been keeping herself looking all right by jogging. She is disappointed by her husband Arthur’s increasingly flabby body, days spent in front of the TV and well basically his existence. Doris delves into ancient witchcraft to get rid of him once and for all on Halloween (or its proper name Samhain).
The Stone Face, Colin Greenland - Neil and Gwen take a much needed holiday in a seaside small town bed and breakfast. Gwen isn’t much fun and doesn’t want to do anything. When Neil picks up a stone he can make out a face in it, the holiday suddenly gets a lot more exciting.
Fastening, Julie R. Good - A woman stops to help an old lady whose car has broken down on the side of the road. Stopping is only the start of her nightmare.
That’s it for the best but the next couple are also worthwhile reads.
The Boarder, Wendy Webb - A writer Jack Sampson wants a place where he can pretty much type and be alone, isolated from society but with not much money answers an advertisement for looking for a boarder for a room in a large house. He is told by the maid a bunch of restricting rules such as he must attend dinner nightly at 8pm with the lonely house owner. He doesn’t really care he plans on spending most of the time in his room anyway but what he discovers at dinner will make him revaluate the decision to stay.
Out Behind the Shed, Bill Pronzini - Mechanic finds a body behind the shed but his boss cannot see the body and tells him there’s nothing there and to get back to work.
Fear O’ Ghorta, Peter Tremoyne - A priest listens to a man who calls himself Fear O’ Ghorta (Man of Hunger) who recounts a sin he has not confessed for 25 years that took place during the Irish potato famine.
Going Away, Craig Shaw Gardner - Tom has gone to Florida to escape the winter and memories of his dead wife. She however seems to keep popping up in his mind and talking to him. He hopes escaping to Florida will make her go away.
The Mermaid, Tanith Lee - Michael recounts his encounter with a mermaid proving they are more an animal then the legends portrayal as human women with fish tails instead of legs.
The Beautiful Uncut Hair of Graves, David Morrell - One of the biggest names of this collection has written only an above average story. A man finds some documents amongst his dead parents’ possessions. He thinks he may be adopted so sets off to his birthplace, Redwood Point to find out. What he finds there is pure evil.
Against the Skin, Mark Morris - Lee is an unemployed loser who poaches wildlife for extra cash. He meets a girl at a club who convinces him to take the bus home instead of a cab.
Mulberry’s Crystal, Brian Mooney and Stephen Jones- The story which obviously inspired this collection’s cover design. A man runs into his friend from uni days, Silas Mulberry. Silas invites him back to his place, shows him a crystal that he says is responsible for his imminent brutal murder.
The Door, Sharon Webb - Classic haunted house thriller about a young couple who buy a house that they know was severely undervalued. When painting a wall they discover there’s a hidden door but can’t open it.
The next stories will pass the time but they’re nothing memorable.
When They Gave us Memory, Dennis Etchison - A soap actor is getting married so goes to visit his parents that he hasn’t seen for a while to tell them the news. His parents and everyone else don’t seem to remember he’s an actor, in fact their memories and his yearbook show a different past to what he remembers.
The Magic House, Lynn S. Hightower - Old lady remembers the story of a magic house and that she had indeed found it down the road when she was a child. Now the visiting grandkids are missing.
Rescheduled, Mike Chinn - Graeme forgets the keys to his office, suffering from both migraines and a hangover he has to ride the train home and back to get the keys. His headaches won’t be his only obstacle.
Medusa’s Child - Kim Antieau - Matthew likes the eyes of a vagrant woman on the street so offers her food if he can paint her. She wants a place to stay while he paints. Leila takes more than this.
Past Tense, Brian Hodge - A guy who likes a constant variety of women is always breaking up with them. Many have done little things as acts of vengeance but Lisa, his latest dumpee takes vengeance to a new level.
Island of the Seals, Samantha Lee - A female writer moves to an isolated island where there are no humans, just seals. A mysterious man appears, tells her stories, makes love to her then disappears every morning before sunrise. Life is great until the seal clubbers arrive.
The rest of these stories are pretty average but this is what they’re about.
Under the Boardwalk, Lori N Allen - Some kids find a body in the sand under a Coney Island boardwalk but the older girl doesn’t want to tell anyone as she doesn’t like nightmares.
The Picnickers, Brian Lumley - Busybody kid overhears his doctor uncle talking to grave diggers about holes in a buried coffin and discovers gypsies have unleashed an obour.
Fry Day, Melanie Tem - Mother of a rape and murder victim goes to a carnival as she counts down the hours before the switch on the murderer’s electric chair is thrown.
The Sweetest Rain, Nancy Holder - Some guy visits and talks to his dead wife at her grave.
Wrong Side of the Road, Norman Partridge - Helen meets Roy, a guy who lost his legs and soul in the war.
Thirteen Lies About Hummingbirds, Michael Bishop - Some guy wants to impress a woman so offers to buy her gifts. One thing she asks for is a hummingbird so he buys her a broche.
The Tape, Jessica Palmer - A bad driver gets lost on the way to Deer Island, finds it, then can’t find the bridge out again.
The Dark Places in Between, Karen Haber - Seth is a successful painter but is struggling to pay the bills as he hasn’t painted anything decent in years. Does Maria have the answer?
A Sailor’s Pay, Jack Candy - A murderer killed his wife with a knife and has fled in a boat with a kidnapped little girl so the coastguard is looking for them.
Photo Call, David Sutton - Jeremy Hitching is becoming more and more successful as a photographer. A huge fan of Norton Bainbridge he writes him many a fan letter. One day he gets a reply to meet his idol.
Parralax, Nicholas Royle - Couple out hiking come across a cemetery. One of the statues appears to move out of the corner of their eyes and a grave looks partially open but isn’t. These are just tricks of the eye right?
Of Natural Causes, Ashley McConnell - A mother dies and the daughter finds it hard to accept that the corpse at the funeral is her.
Something About Camilla, Juleen Bratingham - A bunch of stuck up privileged women are reliving their school days. Amongst other memories Sherry asks if they remember Camilla? No one does as each memory path investigated turns out to be someone else. But they should remember Camilla for a very good reason.
The best collection I’ve ever come across of short stories is Mystery Writers of America Presents Death Do Us Part: New Stories about Love, Lust, and Murder which was just about full of five star worthy rating stories.