This is the first book I've read in a long while that leaves me perplexed as to how I feel about it. It was intriguing enough to keep me interested, it had a fascinatingly fiendish villian, and it was more highbrow than your average pulpy serial killer book. However, I think my ambivalence about the book lies mostly in the fact that I didn't much CARE what happened to these people. Dart was fascinating but too arrogant, Davey was completely annoying, and Nora was just THERE. Oddly enough, I found myself more interested and concerned about the people and events of the past (Mannheim and company). I would not call this a BAD book, but I have to care about the people or I can't root for them to survive.
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Straub's recent series of books, while excellent, have been dense and rather cerebral as horror books go. This one, while employing many of the same devices about family secrets and mysteries half-buried in the past, has an action storyline with a viscerally satisfying villain and a strong female protagonist. The premise is that the history of a famous fantasy novel not only concerns some eccentric authors, but collides with a wily killer on a rampage. The settings--in seedy motel rooms, New England houses, a bizarre private club and an over-the-hill literary retreat--are especially fun.