If anyone reading this is a fan of horror, Canadian Andrew Pyper’s novel, The Damned, is just for you. Well written, fast paced — but long– the book is about what seems to be an average upper middle class family in Detroit which boasts 16-year-old twins, a boy, Danny, and a girl, Ashleigh. As an adult, due to several death, or near-death- experiences, Danny writes a book called The Afterlife, which becomes a book club favourite, and receives good reviews. Danny, aged 36, goes on the talk show circuit and speaks across the US. However, odd and deadly events happen — including the deaths of his mother, father, and Ash (his twin). The part I liked best is when Danny — through some near-death adventures — jumps into the ‘afterlife’. The scenes of the hell he lives through are withering. Yet the book carries on, a mystery, an adventure, a family saga all arranged in a way to terrify.
Something about the book reminded me of another horror/mystery I must have read years ago. The Bad Seed is a 1954 novel about a mother who discovers Rhoda, her precocious and polite 8 year old daughter, has murdered someone — for no reason other than because she wanted to. It seems author William Marchdied barely a month after the book was first published (Rhoda’s fault?). The book was a best-seller in the US, and was nominated for a prestigious award. I remember it as chilling, and clever horror story.
Casey Plett’s novel Little Fish, won the 2019 Amazon First Novel Prize. Wendy Reimer, aged 30, is a trans woman in Winnipeg. She works in a gift shop and also is a sex worker … The death of her grandfather sparks her interest in her family’s history as a way of examining her own gender identity. Two parts of the story stood out for me. First, Wendy visits a friend of the family who holds the key to their Mennonite background; the 84 year old Anna demands that Wendy start believing and reading her bible and “fit in” to the Mennonite community. There is also a brief scene when the police stop Wendy and treat her in a nasty and discriminatory way.
We just signed up for CBC Gem. It’s free, but if you want to watch programs such as the Nature of Things, or the Fifth Estate or anything else — be prepared for lots of ads spliced throughout the shows. To avoid all ads, you need to pay $4.99 per month. There is an excellent Swedish-Danish series called Grey Zone. The dialogue sizzles, the plot moves relentlessly ahead. The acting is great. The thriller’s plot involves cops and the “intelligence” services which are desperate to stop a terrorist attack in Sweden, but of course they are willing to sacrifice a number of civilians along the way. I think the series is 7 episodes, and each one is excellent. Looking back, I now see the ‘bad guys’ include a Lebanese man (probably a Palestinian) and a Syrian — though we are quick to learn he was very hard done by. When Scandinavian intelligence caves into whatever the US or Britain wants — the plot seems pretty realistic. The best actor is a 6 year old boy — who makes friends with the Syrian man.