A BLOOD OF KILLERS
By Gerard Houarner
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Prolific horror author Houarner (The Oz Suite ) assembles a disturbing collection of 13 reprints and 12 originals. Most of the tales highlighting his twisted supernatural assassin, Max (featured in 2001’s The Beast That Was Max ), are brief, but “Like Smoke Rising from the Burning Ghats” offers detailed descriptions of a young boy in Calcutta becoming something monstrous, and the novella “Dancing with the Skeletons at the Feast of the Dead” is almost symphonic in its depiction of brutality in a small Mexican village. The other stories are no less dark: in “Let Me Tell You a Story,” a babysitter manipulates her charges into committing acts of evil, while “The Shape” is a harsh tale of mental illness and abuse. The bleakness might turn off some readers, but fans of intense, psychology-driven horror and sharp writing will be more than satisfied.