poetic and sly,
This review is from: The Damnation Game (Paperback)Once again, Barker gives me a good reason to call him the Master of the Macabre.
Martin Strauss, ex-boxer, petty thief and gambler, gets offered the chance at early parole. The catch is that he would have to become the personal bodyguard of one of Europe's wealthiest businessmen: Joseph Whitehead. What could be wrong with that? A lot, as Marty will soon learn. Beneath the image of a calm and cool man in complete control of his life, Joseph is a man with a horrible and deadly secret.
In the closing days of WW2, Joseph had made a living in the demolished ruins of Warsaw as a thief and a cheat; he carried the persona of a man in control of his own destiny, who could outsmart any opponent. So when Joseph hears tell of a man, a mysterious card-sharp, living in Warsaw who cannot be beaten, Joseph jumps at the chance to test his skills. Joseph manages to walk away from the game with the man who calls himself The Last European with more then he could have ever dreamed. He is gifted with power, wealth, and fame; the price-tag for all of these gifts was a steep one: Joseph's soul.
Now, some 40 years later, The Last European is back to claim what he is owed; only Joseph doesn't want to pay up. Now Martin has a choice, he can return to prison and finish his sentence, or he can risk his soul in the protection of Whitehead. Martin may be in good physical condition, but the Last European has more than muscle on his side. He is the master of illusions, he can make you see and feel your worst nightmares in the flesh; his power is so terrible that he is able to raise the dead to aid him in his quest to get to Joseph. One such undead associate of The Last European's is Anthony: an overweight middle-age man with a habit of eating the little girls he so lovingly massacres.
This book was utterly guttural and vicious in it's imagery, while at the same time as clever and sensitive.
Pick it up if you want a good scare.