The Exorcist leaves scares for the silver screen

The Exorcist is every parent’s nightmare: Losing a child to a horrible, un-diagnosed disorder that changes the child into a murderous monster while it kills her. A divorced actress, Chris MacNeil, distracted by work, notices odd sounds in her apartment before she notices odd behavior in her 11-year-old daughter. When Chris finally consults a doctor, […]

The Secret Woman: Implausible diversion

Victoria Holt’s The Secret Woman is an old-fashioned mystery story arising from the Victorian aristocrats’ need for a male heir carry on the line. The leading lady is Anna Brett, a orphan in the care of an eccentric maiden aunt who buys but rarely sells antique furniture in an English seaport dominated by the Crediton […]

The Godfather: Gory story, great storytelling

As one of the 32 people in America who hadn’t seen the film version of The Godfather, I was pleasantly surprised that the novel is not just another gory Mafia story. Mario Puzo’s story is solid: It’s packed with more characters than a casting call, each of them interesting variations on familiar gangster-film types. The […]

Airport by Arthur Hailey: Details matter

I read Airport in two big gulps two days ago. Tonight I can scarcely remember the plot or the characters’ names, but the details are still vivid. In Airport, Arthur Hailey weaves together several plots whose characters happen to be in a particular place, just as he did in Hotel. In this case, the scene […]

The Gabriel Hounds: Suspense with a hashish haze

The plot of The Gabriel Hounds is one that Catherine Morland would have loved, had that Jane Austen creation lived in the 1960’s drug culture. Christy Mansel is on a package tour of the Middle East when she bumps into her second cousin, Charles, who’s on a business trip. The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart […]

Rosemary’s Baby: Infantile horror novel

Everybody over 40 knows what Rosemary’s Baby is about, just as they know Moby Dick is about a guy hunting a white whale. The difference between Ira Levin’s novel and Herman Melville’s is that there’s more to Moby Dick what everybody knows. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin Random House, 1967, 245 p. 1967 bestseller # […]

Greatheart lacks great solution

In Greatheart, Ethel M. Dell has created characters readers will care about and eagerly follow, hoping for their happiness. But, as often happens to Dell, when it’s time to end the story, she doesn’t know how to solve the problem she plotted. Greatheart by Ethel M. Dell 1918 bestseller #6. Project Gutenberg ebook #13497. My […]