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Monday, February 21, 2011

Not Quite Horror: Peter Abrahams

Now that I am in the home stretch of revising the book, I am going to be turning my attention to this blog more and more.  Recently, I started a new feature, "Backlist Not to Miss."  Today, I will launch another feature, "Not Quite Horror."

The goal of these features is to help you, the librarian, help your readers.  I will make your job as easy as possible.  The result will be happy horror readers who will come to trust and rely on you for their next scary read.

With this feature specifically I am tapping into the fact that like any reader, horror fans do not only read books which strictly fit the definition of horror.  There are many authors and titles on your shelves that these patrons may love if only they knew where to look.  So, to that end, I will be guiding you toward the specific titles and, in some case, authors who you can suggest to your horror fans.

I am going to begin with one of my favorite psychological suspense authors, Peter Abrahams.  In a Abrahams psychological suspense story, he leads his main character into a situation which the reader will dread.  He know things are going to go badly from the initial set-up, but as readers, we enjoy the tension and love to squirm as Abrahams takes us on a ride.  He compares himself to Hitchcock, and I agree.  If you like Hitchcock, you will love Abrahams.

These novels are highly literate, brisk, and graphic.  There are no ghosts, vampires, zombies, or monsters of any speculative kind.  The horror comes from real life situations.  His protagonists are ordinary, flawed people, but it those flaws which propel them, head first, into trouble.  Expect the truth to not be what it appears, expect overlapping subplots, expect a tension that build to danger, basically, expect one unsettlingly ride.

I usually begin readers who are new to Abrahams with End of Story.  Just the set up alone makes me squirm.  A young, female, aspiring writer decides to take a job teaching a writing class at a maximum security prison.  Do you see what I mean now?  Even letting your wicked imagination run wild, you would still not figure out the engrossing, suspenseful, and tense story that follows.  Plus, it will stay with you for days after you turn the final page.

One final note about Abrahams.  He does not only write psychological suspense.  In fact, he has 2 other series which will probably not appeal to pure horror fans, but both are very good in their own right.  The first is the young adult Echo Falls Mystery series, which begins with Down the Rabbit  Hole.  The second is a series he writes under the pseudonym Spencer QuinnThe Chet and Bernie Mysteries are told from Chet, the dog's point of view.  Here is a link to the review I wrote on the first book in the series, Dog On It.

So if you or your patrons love horror but want to try something new, check out Peter Abrahams.

And look for more Not Quite Horror features soon.

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