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Torched!

Novel by James Blackstone (Australia) 1986.

John Brosnan seems to enjoy writing his horror under pseudonyms. Not content to be half of 'Simon Ian Childer' and 'Harry Adam Knight', authors that are respectively 'SIC' and 'HAK', he is also half of 'James Blackstone'; the other half being another Australian expatriate, John Baxter. This one deals with spontaneous human combustion, a strange phenomenon used early on in literature by Charles Dickens in Bleak House, a fact not unnoticed by 'Blackstone' who uses the incident here, and also by Graham Masterton who uses it in his Spirit.

English insurance investigator Richard Grierson is flown in to help out his American counterpart Jack Lattimer who is baffled by a series of fires striking at big buildings. They soon decide that only spontaneous human combustion can be made to fit the cases, but are naturally sceptical about the idea. Then a man burns to death in Carol Woollcott's shower, and she is deathly afraid about somebody. Could someone be deliberately burning people to death? And for what reason?

Brosnan isn't a bad pulp writer, as demonstrated by the two horror novels that he has produced solo: Carnosaur and Worm. This is no exception, with the story moving along at a fair whack and hiding a few twists in the process. Stylish, snappy and relatively short, as indeed are all Brosnan's novels, this is also another good one.


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