Picks and Pans Review: When a Darkness Falls

updated 02/27/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/1984 01:00AM

by Paul Zindel

The author of the play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and three successful books for young adults, Zindel seems to have set himself the task of writing the nastiest horror novel ever, and he has just about succeeded. The jacket says "A Novel of Adult Terror," and indeed, it should not be allowed in the hands of anyone under 21. The book is rife with explicit and violent sex, drugs, mutilation murders, attempted incest and every other hideous crime any psychopath has ever thought of. One main character is a Hollywood writer with a lavish Beverly Hills house, a loving wife and two beautiful children who finds himself spending $15,000 a month to support his life-style. Then his cocaine addiction gets to him and his movie deals begin to fall through; Another character is a detective who has a special empathy with psychopathic murderers and is trying to track down a madman who is disemboweling young women and nailing them up afterward. In addition, Zindel peoples his Beverly Hills with real movie stars (Jimmy Stewart, Charlton Heston, Danny Thomas), producers and plastic surgeons. Zindel gives a terrifying description of what drug addiction must be like. His depiction of two children who have had every material advantage is also effective—they talk and act like real spoiled children, yet they are funny and lovable too. Only readers with the strongest of stomachs should try this novel; it's likely to provoke frightening nightmares in anyone else. (Bantam, $13.95)

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