Valentine by Tom Savage

” Valentine ” by Tom Savage is a mystery novel originally published in the mid 1990’s .

Jillian Talbot is a bestselling suspense novelist living in New York with her artist boyfriend . She is living a comfortable life writing her books , hanging out with her actress friend , and she loves her boyfriend . Everything is going well up until a stalker appears into her life , sending her Valentine’s day cards with intimidating messages , always signing the card ” Valentine ” . The story becomes more and more suspenseful as she hires a private investigator to find out this stalker is and why they are sending her threatening letters , dead animals , and roses . Come find out in Tom Savage’s ” Valentine ” .

This book is a thrilling mystery . It switches point of view often between Jill and her stalker , giving the novel a voyeur type quality which I enjoy … don’t read too much into that statement . The only complaint I have about it is that I feel the themes of Valentine’s day could’ve been used more but admittedly its a minor thing and probably only bothers me . A movie based off of this book was made and I watched it as well . The movie is a very loose adaptation at best , actually the movie seems to be a ” I Know What You Did Last Summer ” knock off with the book being used as a superficial dressing . Overall , recommend the book to mystery and suspense fans , and recommend the movie to lovers of B-movie slashers .

Final Girls by Riley Sager

” Final Girls ” by Riley Sager is a mystery/thriller published in the late 2010’s .

Quincy Carpenter was the lone survivor of a brutal massacre ten years before the start of this story . When her story went public , the media labeled her as well as two other woman ( Lisa and Sam ) who went through similar ordeals as ” Final Girls ” . Quincy does her best to put it behind her . She gets in a good relationship , starts a baking blog , and pops xanax  pills like her life depends on it . One day though , Lisa is murdered and Sam suddenly comes out of hiding to check on Quincy , or at least that is what Sam says . Sam makes Quincy’s life difficult , she pries into Quincy’s past , has to be bailed out of jail , they shoplift , and eventually end up putting a man into a coma . Quincy becomes suspicious of her and she also wants to investigate Lisa’s death . She gets the feeling that all of this is connected to the massacre she experienced ten years ago … the problem with that being she can’t remember what happened . Will she remember what she needs before it’s too late ? Come find out in ” Final Girls ” !

Alright , so this is my first time reading a Riley Sager novel and it was a fun read . The protagonist , Quincy , is a sympathetic figure and Sam is a clever and manipulative * expletive * , perfect for a good mystery story . I’m sure the experienced mystery reader could predict the twist at the end but I believe the journey to that point is entertaining enough to suggest that you check it out .

Werewolf Cop by Andrew Klavan

” Werewolf Cop ” is a supernatural thriller/ mystery written by Andrew Klavan , published in the mid 2010’s .

A brutal murder attracts the attention of the Extraordinary Crimes Unit , specifically detectives Zach Adams ( The Cowboy ) and Martin Goulart ( Broadway Joe ) . They notice the crimes were committed using broadswords and that leads them to believe that the crime was committed by the BLM ( a German-Russian gang ), not only that , the leader of the group ( Dominic Abend ) was there himself . The two detectives have never been closer but Zach is having to deal with some complications . His boss brings him in to her office and tells him that Martin might be on the take , also Zach is being blackmailed by a former lover . He finds a potential lead in Germany in the form of a professor . The professor tells him a crazy story involving immortal Nazi’s , magic daggers , and werewolves . He doesn’t believe her … until the moment she turns into a werewolf before his eyes . From there , the story turns into a fast paced supernatural thriller involving police corruption , German cults , and one hungry werewolf cop !

This is my first time reading an Andrew Klavan novel , I’ve seen some of the movies he wrote ( One Missed Call , True Crime , Gosnell ) and enjoyed those so I figured that his novels would be worth reading . Let me tell you , ” Werewolf Cop ” is one hell of an introduction to the guy . Dark and fun are the two words I would use to describe this masterpiece . It’s not for the weak of heart but if you enjoy a good detective story or are just into werewolves , read it folks !

Dr. Phibes by William Goldstein

” Dr. Phibes ” is a mystery/horror story written by William Goldstein , originally published in the 1970’s .

Dr. Phibes died in a car crash while speeding off to see his wife as she dies on the operating table … or did he ? Several doctors in London start dying in weird and horrible ways . The first gets killed by bees , the second was ripped apart by bats , the third involved a frog mask , and a fourth was drained of all his blood . The investigators believe these murders are based off the biblical plagues of Egypt but they don’t know why the doctors have been targeted . Will the investigators find the other targets before all ten plagues have been performed ? What involvement do they have with Dr. Phibes ? Is Dr. Phibes really as dead as people think ? Come find out in ” Dr. Phibes ” ?

I first heard about this book after watching the movie version of it that starred the legendary horror film actor Vincent Price ( which I also recommend )  . This is a fun , smooth , mad scientist story with plenty of twists and sympathetic characters . By the end of the story  , you’ll understand everything . Overall , I’d say check this one out if you’re into mysteries and old school mad scientist stories .

The Strange Island of Dr. Nork by Robert Bloch

” The Strange Island of Dr. Nork ” is a science fiction short story by Robert Bloch , originally published by ” Weird Tales ” magazine .

This story starts off with our narrator , a reporter , gets sent to an island and to learn about the mysterious Dr. Nork and what experiments he is performing there . The first thing he finds on the island is a bottle with a note in it stating ” To whom it may concern : Dr. Nork is a mean , nasty old thing , so there ! ” and the second thing he encounters is a talking ape ! Enjoy this tale of a mad scientist , zombies , and … comic books ?

This story is actually a parody of a story by H.G. Wells called ” The Island of Doctor Moreau ” and it is honestly one of the funniest things I have ever read . It knows how to play with expectations and subvert stock characters . The humor in the tale surprised me because the only other Robert Bloch story I’ve read to this point is ” Psycho ” which is a totally different type of story . It’s fun and creative , if you can find it then read it .

Who Goes There ? by John W. Campbell , Jr.

” Who Goes There ? ” is a science fiction horror story written by John W. Campbell , Jr ( as Don A Stuart ) , originally published in the 1930’s .

A crew of scientist are on an outpost in Antarctica . They find an alien creature and it’s ship frozen in ice . Naturally curious , they strive to thaw out both . The ship is destroyed by accident but the creature survives and starts attacking the outpost dogs . The creature is electrocuted to death but the scientist discover something that instantly frightens them . The creature was turning into one of the dogs and one of the scientist admits to dreaming about the creature . In the dreams , the creature can not only change itself into any creature it ingests but it can also read minds and project it’s thoughts into others . Come read a tale of paranoia , murder , and survival .

This is a short story but it has a huge punch inside . It is one of the best uses of paranoia in a story that I’ve ever read . If the story sounds close to the John Carpenter movie ” The Thing ” , that’s because the movie is based on this story . I would recommend this story especially to people who enjoyed that movie as well as fans of old school science fiction in general .

Magic by William Goldman

Magic by William Goldman is a psychological thriller that was originally published in the 1970’s .

Corky is a successful magician but he is not yet ready to take the next big step . He goes back to his childhood city one day without telling his manager where he is going and why he is . He rents a house by a lake from an old crush of his . He spends his time trying to reconnect with her , reminiscing about his family life there , and talking to his ventriloquist dummy . You know , normal stuff . Can you imagine things start going wrong ?

I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll just say this . This is a great thriller , it keeps you guessing , keeps a sense of humor , with a sense of dread throughout . Read it folks !

The Howling 3 by Gary Brandner

The Howling 3 is a horror novel written by Gary Brandner published in 1985 .

The novel takes place a year after the village of Drago was burned down . A small group of police find a teenage boy in the woods named Malcolm . He is sent to the hospital and placed under the care of a psychiatrist ( Dr. Holly Lang ) . They quickly take a liking to each other but there is a couple of problems . One: Dr. Wayne Pastory kidnaps him to experiment on him in a secret clinic in order to discover more about werewolves and two : Derak , the head living werewolf , also wants Malcolm . Eventually Malcolm escapes and joins a carnival . He becomes the star attraction and things are going relatively well for him but it just wasn’t meant to last . Dr . Pastory and Derak both find him again and it leads to an epic showdown .

I really enjoyed this one . You can read this one without reading the other two and still understand what is going on . There is some torture involved in this story so if you can’t stomach that , don’t read it . If you’re okay with it through , enjoy this dramatic tale of friendship versus heritage .

The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines by Peter Joseph Gallagher

The Little White Trip : A Night in the Pines is a horror novel written by Peter Joseph Gallagher , self published in the 2000’s .

Five high school graduates ( Matt who is ” writing ” this story , Dura , Sam , Ian , and Julie ) win a trip to a cabin and a ski lodge on a mountain in Arizona . Something is fishy though , on the way over there they arrive at the wrong cabin and are told that the cabin that they are suppose to go to once housed a brutal murderer that was never caught . They doubt it at first but when they get to their cabin things get creepy . They look in the basement and find a photo of the killer and his family . The next day , all of them ( except for Sam who stays at the cabin ) go skiing together but when they get back Sam is gone and the car is wrecked . What happened to Sam ? Could this killer still be alive and killing today ?

This story is told from Matt’s point of view and that is what helps this story a lot . There is a growing sense of paranoia as the story goes along and it likes to throw its twists throughout . This feels like one of R.L. Stine’s ” Fear Street ” and I mean that in the best possible way . Old clichés given new life with fun plot twists . Read it folks .

My Journey Through Horror Fiction

Since this is October , I have decided to take this time to talk briefly about my personal journey through reading horror . Horror has almost always been apart of my reading habits . I started the way most 90’s and early 2000’s kids did … reading R.L. Stine’s ” Goosebumps” series in secret at my elementary school ( ” The Haunted Mask ” sticks out the most. ) . From there , I took the next obvious step and started to read R.L. Stine’s ” Fear Street ” series .

Then one day in junior high I was introduced to Edgar Allen Poe through a story called ” The Tell-Tale Heart ” and was immediately hooked . It remains a personal favorite of mine to this day. From there on , I couldn’t get enough . My family made it a habit to go to the library or one of the book stores almost every week . Before junior high was over , I recall reading several collections of Edgar Allen Poe’s work ( there is a huge collection called ” Edgar Allen Poe Complete Tales and Poems ” released by Fall River Press that I bought at Barnes and Noble for about eight bucks . It’s basically a steal at that price . ) , H.G. Wells ( ” The Invisible Man” , ” War of the Worlds ” , ” The Island of Doctor Moreau ” ) , Bram Stoker’s ” Dracula ” , Mary Shelley’s ” Frankenstein ” , Thomas Harris ‘s Hannibal Lector series , and Stephen King’s ” Needful Things ” . Of course , those are just some of the highlights .

In high school I came across a short story collection by Clive Barker called ” The Books of Blood ” and became a lifelong fan of the man’s work . Now while I read my first Stephen King novel in junior high , I wasn’t an instant fan . I read his stuff because it was basically required of all horror fans but I didn’t get into his work . That is … until I read his post apocalyptic novel ” The Stand ” . I consider it his greatest novel to this day and it helped me appreciate his writing a whole lot more .

Now outside of high school , I’ve come across so many great authors and stories that it would be impossible for me to write them all down but I feel like I should leave a list of recommendations . So here you go : Ray Bradbury ( Something Wicked This Way Comes ) , H.P. Lovecraft ( At the Mountains of Madness ) , R.L. Stine ( Red Rain ) , Clive Barker ( The Damnation Game ) , H.G. Wells ( The Island of Doctor Moreau ) , Edgar Allen Poe ( The Raven ) , Arthur Machen ( The Great God Pan ) , Robert E. Howard ( Pigeons from Hell ) , Michael Crichton ( The Andromeda Strain ) , Robert Bloch ( Psycho ) , Thomas Harris ( The Silence of the Lambs ) , Stephen King ( It ) , Robert McCammon ( Swan Song ) , William Peter Blatty ( Legion ) , William Hope Hodgson ( The Whistling Room ) , Richard Matheson ( Hell House ) , Dean Koontz ( Twilight Eyes ) , and Harlan Ellison ( I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream ) .