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The Hymn

Novel by Graham Masterton (Scotland) 1991.

The prolific Graham Masterton has delivered the goods, regularly and consistently, for over twenty years. The only real down point to his career was the Night Warriors trilogy, which although undoubtedly influencing the Nightmare on Elm Street films, started dubiously but successfully and ran quickly downhill from there. So, after the two Night Warriors sequels, Death Dream and Night Plague, interspersed only by the decent The Walkers, it is somehow fitting that he should make recompense with the novel of his career.

Lloyd Denman has it all: a big house, an expensive car, his own popular fish restaurant; and Celia, his beautiful, talented and intelligent fiancee. But then Celia calmly walks into a downtown car park and burns herself to death. And somewhere in the desert, only the day afterwards, a busload of people seem to follow suit. The grief-stricken Lloyd naturally investigates, and finds himself up against a Nazi survivor of Hitler's bunker who reckons that he is giving his followers eternal life through purifying fire. The problem is that he seems to be right.

One word that epitomises Graham Masterton's work is 'control'. He seems to instinctively know exactly how his plots should progress, at exactly what pace, and with exactly the right escalation of terror, tension and momentum. This had already been a notable characteristic of his twenty previous horror novels, and it reaches perfection in The Hymn. Four of his previous masterpieces earned themselves a maximum score in my rating system - Plague, The Wells of Hell, The Heirloom and Ritual, but this surpasses all of them. A master storyteller at the peak of his considerable powers.

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