The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

” The Manchurian Candidate ” is a political thriller written by Richard Condon , published in 1959 .

Sergeant Raymond Shaw and the rest of his platoon are captured during the Korean War . They are taken to Manchuria where they get worked over and brainwashed by communist scientist . The scientist put on a demonstration of their brainwashing abilities by having Shaw kill two of his fellow soldiers in front of Chinese and Soviet officials . They then proceed to brainwash Shaw and his group, telling them that they were ambushed by Chinese soldiers but Shaw heroically took out every single one of the people who had attacked them . This leads to Raymond Shaw winning the medal of honor . Now the communist have a brainwashed sleeper agent going around with a medal of honor , what evil deeds do they have planned ?

This novel feels like a time capsule of the 1950’s in America . Dealing with issues such as the Korean War , the threat of political assassination , Joseph McCarthy , the red scare , etc . It benefits you if you have some knowledge of the era but it gives you enough knowledge inside so you don’t get lost . One hell of a thriller , I can see why it made such a big impact back in the day . Would not recommend it to everyone though , most of the characters throughout the novel are evil people and there is some fairly taboo stuff in there dealing with incest , but if that doesn’t affect you then by all means check it out .

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 2 by Gary Brandner

The Howling 2 ( A.K.A. Return of the Howling ) is a horror novel written by Gary Brandner , published in the late 1970’s .

The story picks up three years after the events of the first novel . Karyn is married to a new man ( David ) and has a stepson ( Joey ) , life is going okay for her except for the dreams she keeps having of the events that happened in Drago . She is seeing a therapist to help deal with them . Meanwhile , somewhere just outside the city she is living in , the werewolf survivors of Drago ( her ex husband Roy and his new lover Marcia Lura ) plan their revenge . They slowly start to drive Karyn crazy , chasing her out of her home , to her parents , and finally to Mexico . Will she be able to keep her wits ? Can Karyn defeat the werewolves of Drago one more time ? Come find out in ” The Howling 2 ” !

This novel is a solid follow up to the original novel . If you liked the first one then you’ll like this one I think . It shares most of the same elements , and the villains have a much stronger personal investment and that makes this one slightly better in my eyes . If you’re looking for werewolves , gypsies , and a solid revenge story … check this out .

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 ) .

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Casino Royale is a spy novel by Ian Fleming originally published in the 1950’s . It’s the first James Bond novel .

James Bond is sent by M ( the head of the British Secret Service ) to play and win a baccarat game at the Royale-les-Eaux Casino in France with the goal of bankrupting Le Chiffre . Le Chiffre being a paymaster for SMERSH. Vesper Lynd is assigned to help Bond and Bond has a companion in the C.I.A. ( Felix Leiter) whom is also playing . Now Bond initially loses the game but luckily Felix lends Bond some money . From here Bond gets the win despite some attempts on his life but the story does not end there . The rest of the story involves kidnapping , torture , death , blackmail , double crossing , and suicide .

Something I’d like to point out is that this is a lot more realistic James Bond than the one used in a lot of the movies . He can lose , he doesn’t wisecrack after every kill , and he is overall a more cruel character . This novel is set at a good , fast pace with strong tension throughout . It’s one hell of an introduction for the character . If you like spy thrillers , or if you’re just interested in checking out the origins of one of cinema’s greatest franchises , I’d give this one a look at .