Tags: horror fiction; books; ed gorman; cage o

IHG Award

So many books

So many books, so little time!

I've been thinking about some of the books that I wasn't able to review, for a variety of reasons, this year, and it seems ungracious not to acknowledge at least a few of those I was sent for review and did actually read, so I thought I'd offer a few mini-reviews here.
CAGE OF NIGHT by Ed Gorman (PS Publishing)   Small presses do often have the edge when it comes to producing really attractive volumes, like this one. As soon as I saw it I wanted to read it. I found the cover art spooky and appealing; it's slightly different on front and back, an the difference creates an expectation about sinister events involving a mysterious woman and a strange clearing in a wood.  Also, although I'd heard the name Ed Gorman mentioned with respect many times in the field of horror, somehow I had never read any of his novels.  This one was written in the 1990s but I don't think (judging by the copyright, anyway) that it was previously published, and I got the impression from the introduction  that it may have been because it fell between genres: is it horror or is it crime/suspense?  Well, I like books that can't be easily categorized, so I was all prepared to like this one, and I felt let-down by it...yet liked it enough that I found myself trying to figure out my decidedly luke-warm response.  

It's written in the first person, in prose that's taut and stripped down yet also rather musical.  There are brief interludes in the form of taped case-notes, interviews and news commentary and this works to build up suspense and also to raise the possibility that the narrator is not the good guy we want to think he is...someone, after all, is about to be executed, but this nasty murderer is not named. I found this particular suspense-narrative-convention contrived and rather irritating, but the bigger problem may have more to do with packaging  and not the novel itself.  

In his introduction, Stephen Gallagher begins by describing the type of writing he has always loved: "spare, intelligent commercial fiction."  Yes, I enjoy that, too, and that's what this book is, and if it was a paperback, running to under 200 pages, and I'd ppicked it up to read on the train, I probably would have felt more satisfied by it. (Even though I didn't have to pay for the book!)  Somehow, the hardcover and the beautiful presentation suggests this is something more than a quick, slick thriller...and it ain't.  It is what it is, but it does not rise above or stretch the boundaries of commercial genre fiction...

As for which genre, I think it falls into the currently growing genre that marries horror with crime, and is usually marketed to crime readers.

Now I have to run some errands; I'll do some more reviews before the year ends, though.