Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Grin of the Dark-Ramsey Campbell

The Grin of the Dark
Ramsey Campbell
Tor, Jul 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9780765319395

Hoping to somewhat rekindle his self destroyed film critic career so that even seven year old Mark implies innocently that he’s a loser, dishonored Simon Lester is writing a biography on long forgotten silent film star Tubby Thackeray. The actor was quite a character who could stir normally serene people into a riotous mob with some of the shocking actions he did until Hollywood had enough and blacklisted him.

Simon detests the research into his subject’s personal life even as the apparent spirit of the scandalous actor seems to harass his every activity even over the Internet. Simon fears he may be losing his mind as he knows there is not such thing as ghosts yet he keeps getting visits from the long forgotten blackballed silent screen star whose grinning clown visage frightens the wannabe author in light let alone what that grin in the dark does to him.

This is a tense thriller in which readers will keep changing their mind as to whether it is a ghost story or a psychological horror tale. Simon simply makes the novel work, frighteningly so, with his seemingly innocent relationships including with the apparent ghost of his biographical subject. Ramsey Campbell keeps the tension stratospheric as the audience will wonder like the lead character whether he is going insane as Mr. Campbell cleverly invoked the images of clowns to add to the foreboding sense of personal disaster.

Harriet Klausner

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