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The Girl Next Door Hardcover – May 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


" ... the thing that makes The Girl Next Door so disturbing: the fact that the reader, even though repulsed by the story, cannot look away. The Girl Next Door is definitely NOT for the faint of heart." -- -- Henry W. Wagner, Cemetery Dance

"... the closest thing we have to an American Clive Barker... " ". . . no writer who has ever read him can help being infulenced by him, and no general reader who runs across his work can easily forget him. He has become an archetype." -- -- Stephen King

"Realism is what makes this novel so terrifying ... the monsters ..are human, and all the more horrifying for it. -- Mike Baker, Afraid Magazine

"THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is does not just promise terror but actually delivers it.. it's a page-turner.." -- Stephen King, from the Introduction to The Girl Next Door

"This is the real stuff, horror embedded in genuine literature, an uncomfortable dip into the pitch blackness in the underside of the American literary tradition."-- --Edward Bryant, Locus Publications

From the Publisher

This hardcover edition of The Girl Next Door includes the 3,000 word Introduction by Stephen King.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Connection Press (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963339745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963339744
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (553 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,188,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jack Ketchum "is on a par with Clive Barker (Hellraiser), James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential) and Thomas Harris (The Silence of The Lambs)," and that "the only novelist working today that is writing more important fiction is Cormack McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road). - Stephen King

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for novelist Dallas Mayr. He was born in Livingston, New Jersey in 1946. A onetime actor, teacher, and lumber salesman, Ketchum credits his childhood love of Elvis Presley, dinosaurs, and horror for getting him through his formative years. As a teenager, was befriended by Robert Bloch, author of "Psycho" who became a mentor to him. He supported Ketchum's work just as his work was supported by his own mentor, H.P. Lovecraft. This relationship with Bloch lasted until his death in 1994.

A pivotal point in Jack Ketchum's career came while he was working for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency. He met Henry Miller and assisted him as his agent until shortly before his death in 1980. His extraordinary encounter with Miller at his home in Pacific Palisades is one of the subjects of his memoir in "Book of Souls".

In 1980, Jack Ketchum published his first novel "Off Season". Stephen King said in his acceptance speech at the 2003 National Book Awards that "Off Season set off a furor in my supposed field, that of horror, that was unequaled until the advent of Clive Barker. It is not too much to say that these two gentlemen remade the face of American popular fiction." Ketchum has received continued praise by King throughout their friendship.

Ketchum's work is largely based upon true events. The Girl Next Door , for example, was inspired by the 1965 murder of the young Sylvia Likens. In the special edition of the novel, King, who volunteered to write the preface, wrote one of the longest introductions of his career. He later went on to say that the movie adaptation of the book was "the first authentically shocking American film I've seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer over 20 years ago. If you are easily disturbed, you should not watch this movie. If, on the other hand, you are prepared for a long look into hell, suburban style, The Girl Next Door will not disappoint. This is the dark-side-of-the-moon version of Stand By Me."

He has received numerous Bram Stoker Awards for works such as "The Box", "Closing Time", and "Peaceable Kingdom". As his books gained in worldwide popularity, they also began to be adapted into feature films, the first of which was "Jack Ketchum's The Lost" which went on to be a cult success, followed by the highly controversial second film "The Girl Next Door". However, the main launch for Jack Ketchum into international commercial and critical success was the long-awaited release by Magnolia Pictures of the film Red, based on his novel, starring Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy) and Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan). After favorable reviews at The Sundance Film Festival, the movie made a critical showing in the United States and enjoyed relative success internationally with subsequent translations of the novel.

The author enjoyed more international succes with the publication and film version of "The Woman" co-written and directed by Lucky McKee in which the New York Times said "in this lean adaptation of a novel by Jack Ketchum and himself, maintains an artfully calibrated pace, investing a powerful parable with an abundance of closely observed details. Like David Cronenberg and Roman Polanski, Mr. McKee is a master at drawing suspense from pregnant silences."

Jack Ketchum continues his rise with the present showing of "The Woman" at the Sundance Film Festival 2011 co-written by Ketchum with director Lucky McKee. The novel is to be released this year.

Kethcum lives in New York City where he continues to write, articles, reviews, short stories, novels and screenplays. For more information go to international website:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

224 of 240 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on February 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"The Girl Next Door" is probably Jack Ketchum's most sought after book. I scrambled to pick up a copy when it briefly appeared back in print because buying a used copy requires a second mortgage on the house, signing an agreement to turn over your first born son, and swearing to never resell your copy for less than Bolivia's gross national product. When I finally clutched a fresh new copy in my grimy hands, I was struck with a sudden shudder of fear: is this book worth all the heartache of acquiring a copy? Is it as gruesome as everyone says it is? No, the book is not worth shelling out an insane amount of money for a used copy, but it is an unsettling, gruesome, and soul shattering read.
Jack Ketchum has a tendency to fictionalize real life crime stories. He accomplished this in "Off Season," "Joyride," and here in "The Girl Next Door." In 1960's Indiana, Sylvia Likens and her little sister moved in with Gertrude Baniszewski while their parents went out of town. Baniszewski, her children, and several neighborhood children tortured and eventually murdered Likens over a period of months. At the trial, the children involved in the crime got off with an insignificant punishment, leading to outbursts of rage among the community and anyone with an ounce of moral fiber. In what must surely rank as one of our justice system's lowest moments, Gertrude herself was eventually released from prison, dying peacefully several years later somewhere in Iowa. This case serves as the loose outline for Ketchum's diabolical novel.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Craig Larson VINE VOICE on April 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure I can really add much to the other comments here, some of which are really quite eloquent in their discussions of the book. I bought the old paperback copy of the book, way back, a horrendous thing with a skeleton in a cheerleader's costume on the cover--the art had absolutely nothing to do with the story inside, as I was to discover. This was not the first Ketchum I'd read--that honor went to _Off Season_, which, if you've not read it yet, you owe it to yourself to find immediately. No, I came to _The Girl Next Door_ after I'd read a few more Ketchum titles, and I was still totally unprepared.

This is easily the most gripping, horrifying, impossible-to-stop-reading book I've ever had in my hands. At the end, I felt so dirty, so complicit in the experience of reading that I threw away the book. Now, that's not a comment on the book or the quality of Mr. Ketchum's writing. On second thought, maybe it is--I've never been in the hands of someone so brutally honest, so able to force me to endure such a horrifying experience as the story he chronicles. This is not a feel-good experience. This is not one of those books where good triumphs over evil. You should not read this book if you're looking for a reassuring, light, easy read.

But if you're ready to look into the dark heart of human evil, this may be the book for you. It is truly a great book--an excellent novel with memorable characters and spot-on writing. But the story is not one you'll shake off easily. It really is something akin to driving slowly by the scene of an accident--you want to see what happened, while at the same time, you dread seeing what happened. If you feel up to the experience, give this one a try.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michelle R on November 17, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
All evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing. Most of us have heard that expression. It's a call to action, really. However, if people lived that principle, there would be no need for the expression.

The reality of human is nature is that, unfortunately, if the circumstances are right, not only will good people do nothing -- they will participate.

Humans don't want to hear that they could do monstrous things or have monstrous things down to them if the situation is right, but history proves it, and the breadth of evidence is irrefutable.

Nazi Germany, Milgrim Experiment, Abu Ghraib...

This story takes you in the mind of a young boy who is pulled into this group think, and allows bad things to happen to someone he had started to care about. It gets into his head and shows how his own sense of powerlessness, his willingness to objectify this girl, his need to see her as "other," allows him to allow the unspeakable.

One of the two star reviews states the first 100 pages don't matter, but this is only if you come into it as a voyeur. Those first pages show the lead character as being a good kid, they show his genuine regard for someone he will allow to be harmed, they make sure that you can never fully lose sight of the sweetness and innocence of Meg. The books essential nature would have changed without it, and David could have been too easily dismissed as having been a monster.

And that misses the point.

Some of the other low reviews seem to punish the story for being true to its genre. Granted, there are some horror novelists who lean toward happier endings -- they give you the whole roller coaster ride, but nobody (at least no one you can about) will be harmed in the end.
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