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Old Flames / Jack Ketchum

thold_flames_cover.jpgLeisure / May 2008
Reviewed by: Shannon Riley

No monster is more devious or dangerous than the human monster, a fact author Jack Ketchum uses to good advantage in fiction that explores the dark side of the human psyche. His latest offering, Old Flames, is no exception. The book includes two long novellas, “Old Flames,” published here for the first time, and “Right to Life,” a horrifying tale of sexual depravity and murder that gives a completely new meaning to the phrase.

Ketchum pulls no punches. His fiction is gripping, chilling, edgy, and he never shies away from the controversial issues that have endeared him to countless readers. The works contained in this new volume are no exception.

We have all seen them advertised on the internet - companies offering their services for locating former classmates. “Old Flames” is the story of Dora Wells, a woman who, disappointed by her unfulfilling relationships with men, uses just such an agency when she goes searching for her high school sweetheart. She believes the reunion with Jim Weybourne will rekindle the perfect love that might have been.

When Jim is found, Dora wastes no time in going after him, disregarding the fact that he now has a wife and children.

Her efforts to win him back are calculated and chilling, and the story quickly escalates to become not so much about a woman seeking to recapture lost love but an account of the demented lengths that Dora, who is incapable of real love, goes to in order to gain what she wants.

“Right to Life” is at times reminiscent of Ketchum’s masterpiece The Girl Next Door. A couple loosely involved with abortion protesters kidnaps a woman at a clinic and holds her hostage under the pretence of saving her unborn child. Subjected to humiliation, sexual perversion and torture, she at last becomes aware of her captors’ ultimate goal.

Jack Ketchum is a multiple Bram Stoker Award winner and author of twelve novels and several short story collections. His short story collection Closing Time and Other Stories received the Readers Choice Award for Best Dark Genre Collection from DSM in its first annual Black Quill Awards, and the screen adaptation of his novel Red won high honors at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Ketchum’s stories are straightforward accounts of how common situations can take unexpected twists and turns that expose the inner darkness within his characters. Old Flames is a double barrel shot of terror that strikes right on target.

Purchase Jack Ketchum’s Old Flames.

Posted on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 11:42AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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