Picks and Pans Review: Skull Session

updated 01/19/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/19/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Daniel Hecht

Page-Turner of the Week

ALOOF AND AUSTERE, THE ABANDONED mansion towers over the woods of New York's Westchester County. Within its walls, however, the prospect is far less commanding. With splintered furniture, shattered antiques and uprooted fixtures, it looks like the mosh pit of the titans. No wonder, the locals whisper: Highwood is haunted.

There's certainly no disputing its spell over two men: Paul Skoglund, the owner's nephew, and Morgan Ford, a cop investigating the disappearance of several local teens. As the pair probe Highwood's secrets, the trail leads them into parts of their own pasts they would rather forget—and possibly into mortal danger.

Deftly walking the line between shock and schlock, debut novelist Daniel Hecht steers his convincing tale of psychological horror to a stunning conclusion. His stylish thriller reminds us why we're so afraid of the dark—especially the kind that lurks within. (Viking, $23.95)

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