Sunday, 12 June 2011


I don’t know squat about horror author Alan Peter Ryan except for the fact that he recently passed away from pancreatic cancer. Still, this saddens me. Probably because like most of you, I’m very sensitive to people suffering. I mean, yes, I dig horror on screen and in books, but when it comes to real life, I’m a true softie. The other reason this gets to me is probably because I also feel a connection with the author, owning four of his published novels. Whatever the case may be, his untimely death shook me a little and made me want to pick up one of his titles to read right away. I chose his 1982 THE KILL from Tor Books. It’s all about the woods, country life, an this evil presence that roams the area.
I was already aware of THE KILL, having seen it as a new release way back when. I remember having been attracted by the cover art which reminded me of John Saul’s. Not just by coincidence, I’m sure. My guess is that the publishers were hoping to lure the same wide audience to purchase this book. Wrong move, if you ask me. THE KILL is nothing like the work of John Saul, except that both authors have the same clear line attitude when building up a story; Mr. Ryan even more so with his direct approach and unwordy stance.
THE KILL is about a young unmarried couple from New York who decide that the simple life is the way to go. So they pack up their bags and move to a fictitious rural town not far away called Deacons Kill where they hope to settle in permanently and make new friends. Which they do but at a price. You see, something strange is going on at Deacons Kill. People seem to disappear without a trace or just drop dead for no reason at all, and the sheriff, aware of the whole situation, barely lifts a finger to do something about it. That is, until the newly arrived couple gets mixed up in the mess.
There is a lot more going on in this novel, like how the couple ended up in Deacon Kills in the first place, and who the heck is responsible for the two brutal killings taking place before the high-energized climax. We get to meet a lot of folks in THE KILL, some even from another time. All are relatively well-drawn despite limited characterization. The two main protagonists are the most defined of the bunch. But nearly all have a realistic flair to them which moves the story at a swell pace. The only true downside to THE KILL would be the lack of any real gritty action sequences. It takes a while before some blood does start heading our way. You could blame this on the author’s atmospheric handling which works aplenty but sort of runs out of steam before the big finale. Still, THE KILL is worth your time, especially if you like your horror quiet. All you need is a little patience and a new way of looking at things. Follow these simple rules and I promise you, you’ll have another new author to root for—despite his unfortunate passing.
THE KILL is now available at Necon E-Books.
Until next post—Martin

Reissued Edition from Necon



Robert said...

Nice review. Alan was on the side of quiet horror in that debate that raged in the '80s. He was a long time friend and disciple of Charlie Grant.

Thanks for mentioning Necon Ebooks.

Authorfan said...

Thank you, and you're welcome. Two horror greats who will be missed, no doubt.

Will Errickson said...

"Unwordy stance" is about right! I read Ryan's DEAD WHITE last year and felt the same way. It was a comfortably familiar book with a few nicely-done scenes of (very) quiet horror. And I've got various anthologies that include some of his many short stories that I look forward to reading.

Authorfan said...

I think "Dead White" will be my next read by this author. I simply love his style. Thanks for dropping by.