For starters, there are hot-off-the-presses release from two of the best in the biz. Advance buzz has been strong for Peter Straub and Anne Rices latest ventures, his being Lost Boy, Lost Girl, and Rices a continuation of her infamous vampires series. Look for reviews of both in upcoming editions of Express.
Some other works of not include Ramsey Campbells The Darkest Part of the Woods, about an ancient English forest that provides a setting for murder, madness and mayhem, and Season of the Witch, the latest from Topinabee, MI-based writer and media personality Christopher Knight. A collection of short stories that pays more than a nod to Stephen King, Knights book is his strongest effort yet and he employs a number of clever storytelling twists that connect the tales to each other. Readers will also have fun with the Northern Michigan backdrops and bits of trivia that he stirs in for regional flavor.
But two very chilling, unforgettable and well-crafted books came out this past summer that are highly recommended if you dont mind staying up late because you cant stop turning the pages. William Brodricks The 6th lamentation and Stan Pottingers The Last Nazi have much in common, including the fact that they both deal with the scariest of all creatures to ever walk the earth - the Nazis. Truth be told, theyre would be more appropriately classified as thrillers rather than horror novels, but theyre nail-biters all the same and loaded with suspense that sometimes borders on terror.
The 6th Lamentation by William Brodrick
This debut novel begins with an uncommon act - that of a man seeking sanctuary at a monastery:
The Prior, Father Andrew, was fond of diluting harsher well-known expressions for monastic use, but the sentiment remained largely the same. He was an unconverted Glaswegian tamed by excessive education, but shades of the street fighter were apt to break out when grappling with the more unusual community problems.
It was abolished ages ago. He cant be serious.
Well, he is, said Anselm.
When did he come out with that one?
This morning, when Wilf asked him to leave.
The Prior scowled. I suppose he declined to oblige?
Yes. And he told Wilf theres nowhere he can go.
The man wanting sanctuary is Eduard Schwermann, a family man who has lived quietly for the past 50 years but is suspected of being a Nazi war criminal who destroyed a French underground movement who smuggled Jewish children to safety. As a result, men, women and children were sent off to death camps, but theres a twist to the story as it unfolds - Schwermann claims that he actually risked his own life to save a young Jewish boy. Father Anselm, a barrister turned monk becomes involved with Schwermanns trial and the more he learns, the more reason he has to believe that the church he has devoted himself to is an accomplice in the destruction of the Round Table. Plot twists abound nothing is what it seems, especially the past, which one character notes is not a safe place while it touches on the living.
The Last Nazi by Stan Pottinger
When I first began this taut thriller, I feared I was reading a rip-off of Ira Levins The Boys From Brazil, but it didnt take long to discover that the book was completely original and equally unpredictable. The action kicks in from the opening paragraphs when we meet Melissa Gale, an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department who is hot on the trail of Adalwolf, a Nazi rumored to be the foster son of Dr. Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death from the Third Reich:
The FBI agents climbed the grimy wooden stairwell smoothly, five sylphs in rubber-soled boots, black Ninja suits, Kevlar vests and helmets with visors lowered...Melissa Gale followed them up the steps at a short distance, her sneakers, turtleneck, and bulletproof vest suddenly feeling inadequate. But it didnt matter. She wanted this guy so much it made her mouth dry. Come on, Adalwolf, she said in a soft whisper, be inside that room....It was rare for a prosecutor to join the FBI on an arrest-in addition to the danger, it could make her a witness-but there were unusual circumstances in this case...Looking straight ahead, she saw the flickering blue light of a TV set coming through the crack at the bottom of the door. He was in there. Seventy-five-year old Adalwolf-Josef Mengeles teenage lab assistant at Auschwitz, the last Nazi on her list-was watching television in a rooming house in Atlantic Citys run-down Inlet section.
Gale and Adalwolf have had many close encounters in the past, but he has remained elusive. Now, he has decided to make Gale key in his unrealized plot to carry out Hitlers final solution of extermination of the Jewish race. His plan is nearly flawless, but also has an unexpected moral dilemma attached to it, and Pottingers story races along with economy, almost to a fault because its so well told that you regret having it end. Its provocative on a number of fronts - medical, political, criminal and social, to name a few - and the resolution is quite satisfying. Id expect to see this land on the big screen soon, but do yourself a favor and read the book first.