A PERFECT NIGHTMARE: A NOVEL
BY JOHN SAUL
John Saul has been around for a long time. His first book (Suffer the Children) was published in 1977 and became an instant best seller. I have read many of his books and find most of them to be a little better than okay, but not great.
This one falls somewhere between good and great—closer to great. And, that’s good.
Lindsey Marshall, a senior in high school, is devastated when her parents announce they are selling the home she grew up, part of a small bedroom community, and are moving the family to the big city. She becomes angry and sullen and sarcastic. So, when she disappears shortly after the open house event, the police assume she’s a run-away. Her mother Kara disagrees. And when other women begin to disappear, it becomes clear that someone truly is stalking the tiny community. Kara begins a hunt for her daughter that will change her life in more ways than she could ever dream of…
Some books—like this one—are hard to review without giving away too much of the plot. So, I’m going to have to tread lightly…
- First, I want to mention the character development. It’s amazing. Saul really put some time into growing his characters so that we, the readers, truly feel that we know them. We understand their motivations and decisions. We know, almost before they do, how they’re going to react to any given situation. Yet, because these characters are “human”, they can and do surprise us here and there.
- Saul, too, throws in a few surprises. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, a major character’s story line veers in a direction I never thought it would and blows me away. I LITERALLY cried out, “NO!” Plot twists are always fun!
- When the kidnapper is finally unmasked, I must admit, I was surprised. Saul managed to confuse and redirect me with some subtle and some not-so-subtle red herrings. I’m USUALLY not that easily deterred. Good for him! And, good for me. I enjoyed the not-knowing.
Some of John Saul’s books involve the supernatural—ghosts, demons, monsters. As a result, he is often considered to be a horror or paranormal writer. And, in those cases, I suppose that’s true. However, in my mind, John Saul is more of a SUSPENSE writer. He is masterful when writing tension filled dramatic scenes. So much so, when I am engaged in one of these I can almost hear the histrionic crescendo of background music, building and building in my mind….
A PERFECT NIGHTMARE: A NOVEL is a fast read, yet it’s detailed and mysterious and suspenseful and fun. It’s not a perfect story. I felt the ending was a little rushed. I thought it could have been delved into a little bit more… And, there were a few times when grammar errors pulled me out of the story and made me go hmmm. I didn’t like that. However, over-all. It was a good book…almost great.