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Where's the middle?
on April 25, 2012
Skipp and Spector have been favorites of mine since the release of "The Light At The End" oh-so-many years ago. Their visceral style, eccentric characters and traditional-story-gone-sideways plots were refreshingly different in the sea of horror novels that flooded the shelves on the coattails of Stephen King's success. I was incredibly happy to see a couple of Skipp/Spector collaborations that I had missed available as e-books, and dove straight into "Animals" as soon as I had it loaded on my Kindle.
The presentation of the e-book is much cleaner than the last one I purchased. The typos are there, but there are much fewer of them. I really wish there were page numbers for this book, however.
The story revolves around Syd Jarrett, a down-and-almost-out, newly-divorced 35-year-old in a dying rural Pennsylvania steel town. To try and cheer himself up, he heads to a local club, and gets picked up by Nora, a wild, beautiful woman with a dark secret... and a murderous boyfriend on her trail.
The first half of the book does an outstanding job of fleshing out Syd and Nora as they enter into a wild affair of sex, booze and "awakenings." Skipp and Spector guide the reader through their emotional tornado with remarkable skill, and end the opening act with a bang.
The end of the book is vintage Skipp/Spector, an NC-17 roller coaster ride through a nightmare hurricane of blood, meat and death. It almost (but not quite) wraps things up satisfactorily. Almost.
The middle of the book is where everything just disintegrated. I'm not sure if the authors left things to the end of the story for the sake of suspense, or if they meant to flesh them out in the body of the tale and just ran out of time (or energy), but it leaves the middle feel weirdly unfinished. A "surprise" twist is fumbled badly, as Skipp/Spector drop FAR too many breadcrumbs; when the revelation comes, it's less of a surprise, and more of a relief ("It's about time that happened" was my exact thought).
I liked this book, but I COULD have loved it. It's a horrible shame the the collaboration of the authors came to a close; I would have liked for them to come back and finish "Animals" and make it the book I know it should have been,