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Perfect Nightmare: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – April 25, 2006

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Perfect Nightmare: A Novel + House of Reckoning: A Novel + Faces of Fear: A Novel
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345467329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345467324
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A creepy stalker story becomes a shrewd whodunit as Saul's latest tracks a move from tranquil suburbia to the big city. After a job promotion, the Marshall family prepares to move from Long Island to Manhattan, unaware that a menace edges ever closer to kidnapping their teenage daughter, Lindsay. Eerie first-person chapters from the stalker's close-call perspective effectively counterpoint parents Kara and Steve Marshall's stressful relocation hurdles, as intuitive Kara begins sensing the imminence of the threat, but meets with resistance from harried family members. After the anonymous menace snatches Lindsay, Saul broadens the scope to encompass four likely male suspects, including a pair of real estate agents (one dour and one impossibly chipper). Steve Marshall conveniently dies in a car accident; police sergeant Andrew Grant is cautious and unconvinced of foul play. Lindsay's attempts to escape and the criminal's master plan keep the tension high and the plot accelerating, making this solid suspense from the veteran author of Suffer the Children and the Blackstone Chronicles series.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Saul's take on the sexual-psychopath thriller, whose grand master is surely Thomas Harris in Red Dragon (1981) and The Silence of the Lambs (1988), and whose unacknowledged master is Whitley Strieber in Billy (1990), is a more disquieting book than Saul may have intended. As a literary performance, it doesn't give Harris and Strieber much competition, for its Long Island setting and relentlessly middle-class characters lead Saul into bland prose and shallow psychology. And the mainspring of its plot--who has snatched two pretty teen girls and a twentysomething young mother?--is unexceptional and generically shopworn. Fortunately, by interspersing the thoughts of the perverted perp throughout a third-person text otherwise following either the mother of the second girl kidnapped or the girl herself, Saul adds considerable nasty fascination, though that fascination affords the kind of pleasure that many may think they damn well ought to feel guilty about. What is genuinely upsetting about the book is its depressing implication that hands held out in loving compassion are precisely what shouldn't be trusted. That rather flies in the face of the mother's love that drives the main character (who is eminently trustworthy), and it makes for a brackish, disturbing ending. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

House of Reckoning is John Saul's thirty-sixth novel. His first novel, Suffer the Children, published in 1977, was an immediate million-copy bestseller. His other bestselling suspense novels include Faces of Fear, In the Dark of the Night, Perfect Nightmare, Black Creek Crossing, Midnight Voices, The Manhattan Hunt Club, Nightshade, The Right Hand of Evil, The Presence, Black Lightning, The Homing, and Guardian. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling serial thriller The Blackstone Chronicles, initially published in six installments but now available in one complete volume. Saul divides his time between Seattle, Washington, and Hawaii.

Customer Reviews

Just plain boring.
Elizabeth Nyeste
This book is very disturbing and will keep you on edge from the first to the last page.
Tracey Virginia
The real scary bit about this book is that it could happen to anyone.
Cara Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By - Kasia S. VINE VOICE on July 2, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Perfect Nightmare was my first John Saul book and it was fast, intense and extremely dark as simple words rang truth in my ears like bells and they were terrifying and depressing but made for a really good horror book. There were no super natural monsters, no vampires and witches but a soul of a man so dark and rotten that it chilled me to the bone as I read this book in two days, as it was a very fast and smooth read. I must admit that the story left me feeling down and sad because it was so real and horrifying yet I knew it was a book so I kept reading, if it was a newspaper article I don't know if I would have had the guts to continue.

Kara Marshall and her husband Steve were planning on moving form the charming Long Island home to the city, where Steve worked because they couldn't afford to stay in the house and needed help with their finances. As they decided to put their home out on the market, they unknowingly invited a stranger into their house for an open house who ended up doing the worst harm a mother can imagine; he was responsible for having her only daughter, Lindsay who was a seventeen year old girl, disappear without a trace. I have never read a book so dark and twisted, as the mother's agony was so clearly written, I felt pain as I read it and I felt sick reading about the cold blooded killer who tortured and kidnapped women out of their homes and who were thought to be dead by their family members. I have been told by some people that a loss of a child is the most macabre thing a parent can suffer, and I got a major does of the end, the sadness and the finality of someone else's actions as they ended a mother's happy life and set her life in eternal shadows as her own child was being tortured and pushed to brinks of death.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hogan on October 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
...but quite enjoyable. John Saul to me has always been an enojoyable read. He is quite dark, however, and not for everyone. Most of his novels involve gruesome and disturbing deaths, sometimes involving young people. With novels entitled Suffer the Children and Punish the Sinners, one should realize that Saul is dark.

Perfect Nightmare is no exception. However, he does not involve the supernatural that is prevalent in many of his novels. Instead, he concentrates on a very disturbing kidnapping story. The novel, for the most part, centers of the Marshall family, whose only daughter Lindsay is kidnapped after an open house. Saul does a very good job with character development within the Marshall family. The reader truly feels for them, especially Lindsay and Kara. Some of the extras seem to be simply that, except when he wraps up the novel at the end.

The writing is above par for Saul (I was not impressed with The Manhattan Hunt Club). There is more than the fair share of scares, gasps, shudders, and cringes. As in the typical Saul novel, there are bodies, although the body count is not as high as usual.

I do recommend Perfect Nightmare. Fans of Saul will be impressed, and those not familiar with the author may become fans. But beware, it is a John Saul novel...don't expect to smile much.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SpicyGuy on September 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If ever there was a book that your real estate agent didn't want you to read, it's this one.

I'm a fairly new reader of John Saul's -- got hooked after reading Midnight Voices and have now read most of the backlist -- and I was excited to hear about his new book. After reading a number of great reviews in the "traditional" media and some surprisingly mixed reviews on Amazon (are we all reading the same book?), I rushed out to get my own copy of Perfect Nightmare.

I can honestly say that I have no idea what the few negative reviewers are talking about. I guess any author with as many best sellers and legions of fans will have his detractors on any given title and we all have our favorite books by our favorite authors, but this is one of John Saul's best books and I urge you to give it a read. Is it dark? You betcha. Is it creepy. Unbelievably so. But, hey, this ain't Chicken Soup for the Weenie's Soul and if you're not a fan of dark and creepy, what are you doing reading John Saul anyway?

This story freaked me out (and I mean that in a good way). If you've ever sold a house and had hundreds of strangers traipsing through your house and your stuff, you know exactly the feelings that this story will evoke. Saul takes it to the next level, though, with his antagonist. It's edge-of-your seat, I-can't-believe-he-thought-of-that, holy crap... sort of stuff that will leave you reeling and thinking about the plot and characters for days after you've read the book.

I hate reviews that give away the plot, so I'll just give this book a huge thumbs up and suggest you take a look for yourself. I think it's one of Saul's best and I guarantee that you'll never look at an open house the same way again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Silver Screen on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Perfect Nightmare" by John Saul starts with a nifty premise. A kidnapper targets victims by stalking open houses and homes for sale on the internet. Great idea, and one that hasn't been done yet, to my knowledge, or done to death (no pun intended). The main and core characters are likable, sympathetic and realistic. You can relate to them and you care about what you just know is going to happen.

But starting about midway through the book, I felt that Saul began to lose his focus. Maybe it was the introduction, or reintroduction, of some secondary characters - - mostly thrown in for red herring purposes. But I felt the book lost some of its snap.

The seemingly pointless and senseless death of a major character threw me for a loop - - and not in a good way.

The "big reveal" at the end of the kidnapper was no surprise, as the signs were much too obvious much too early in the book.

The story seemed to end rather quickly, as if Saul himself got tired of the characters and the story.

That being said, although I like Saul's other works, I felt this was formulaic (for him) and seemed an almost phoned in effort. For a new writer, or one less prolific or proven, it might come across as a better effort, but I expect more from Mr. Saul.
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