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Moon

Novel by James Herbert (England) 1985.

Jonathan Childes has a gift: a gift that he would as soon be rid of. Three years ago, when children were being murdered in terrible ways, he could 'see', as if through the killer's eyes, the crimes being committed. Through his help, the murderer was found, but Childes, deeply disturbed by his experience, fled his family to set up a new life elsewhere. Now he is starting to 'see' murders again. But this time the killer can 'see' back, into his mind. And it knows who he is.

The mid-1980's, when this book was written, saw the first major symptom of Big Book Syndrome: novels started to get longer and longer, but without usually adding anything more in the way of plot. Always one to do his own thing, James Herbert started to shorten his books. At just over 300 pages, Moon is an exercise in constraint. Background detail is fed as and when needed, the plot never loses track, and there are no complications, side-stories or sub-plots to make it longer than it ought to be. The book is psychic vs serial killer story, more Fear than Red Dragon, but still distinctly British and distinctly Herbert. The characters are well constructed, with only Miss Piprelly (the headmistress with a secret of the school Childes is working at) seeming to fall short of her potential. And Herbert wisely avoids the tempting supernatural trappings to concentrate on the reality: keeping the killer in the background, whilst mapping out Childes' ordeal, and how he and the people around him cope with an unusual situation. Another solid read from the Grand Master of British horror.


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