The late, great Robert Bloch (author of Psycho
) was a master of macabre humor: he was fond of clever, grisly one-liners, often used as twist endings. He also liked to write about psychotic and psychopathic killers. This solid anthology, put out by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and completed after Bloch's death, honors his legacy with 22 tales about murderers and crazies of various stripes. A good many of the stories, most memorably Esther Friesner's "Lonelyhearts," have Blochian twists at the end. The weakest of the bunch have no other flaw than predictability, and the strongest, such as Ed Gorman's powerful "Out There in the Darkness" are classics of traditional storytelling. You'll find excellent stories here by Denise M. Bruchman, Del Stone Jr., Edo van Belkom, Gary A. Braunbeck, and others. Stephen King contributes a little gem of a tale in which the narrator finds himself in an autopsy room: "It fits. It fits everything with a horrid prophylactic snugness. The dark. The rubbery smell.... Dear God, I'm in a body bag."
Note: the two previous HWA anthologies are Under the Fang, edited by Robert R. McCammon, and Peter Straub's Ghosts, edited by Peter Straub. --Fiona Webster
From Publishers Weekly
Before his death in 1994, Bloch, author of the horror-suspense classic Psycho, lent his imprimatur to this anthology created by the Horror Writers Association (formerly, the Horror Writers of America). Like the selections in his previous anthologies, Psycho-Paths (1991) and Monsters in Our Midst (1993), these 22 stories emphasize psychological over supernatural or physical horrors. Stephen King sets the tone with "Autopsy Room Four," a nail-biting nod to Poe's "The Premature Burial," in which a victim of paralysis struggles to alert dissecting pathologists that he is not yet a corpse. Less ghoulish but no less gripping is Ed Gorman's "Out There in the Darkness" (one of the collection's two previously published stories), about neighborhood vigilantes stalked by the vengeful cat burglar they think they have murdered. Not surprisingly, some of the best contributions delve into the motives of Norman Bates types. In "Lighting the Corpses," Del Stone Jr. follows the thoughts of a serial killer who torches his victims. Both Edo van Belkom's "The Rug" and Gary Jonas's "So You Wanna Be a Hit Man" paint darkly comic portraits of people for whom murder becomes an irresistible pastime, while Bloch's favorite real-life psychopath, Jack the Ripper, shows up in both Denise Burchman's "The Lesser of Two Evils" and Richard Parks's "The Knacker Man." With one foot planted in horror, the other in crime, and its diverse hands skillfully restraining potential excesses, this volume proves that the most effective horrors are often those all in the mind.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.