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The Woodsmen

Novel by Michael Falconer Anderson (UK) 1986.

This was the first of Anderson's various horror novels of the late '80s, and it shows. His subsequent work (another five novels in three years) contains far more in the way of style, characterisation, length, depth, and most noticably, plot: The Woodsmen is basically a very very simple slasher story.

Karen Mallon, fed up with her date's drunken advances, gets out of his car to teach him a lesson. But when he unexpectedly drives off without her, she is forced to walk home. Losing her way, she arrives at a church, complete with its priest crucified outside and a little girl being sacrificed by two madmen on the altar. Naturally she runs away, but is pursued conscientiously by the two madmen in question.

Anderson seems to be much influenced by Guy N. Smith, especially in his outdoor settings, and the way that he deals with his characters: both Anderson and Smith concentrate on what goes on in their character's minds, especially the doubts and contradictions that plague everybody when they have to think. But whereas Anderson's later books compare to some of Smith's better work, this compares only to his worst. The only real plus point here is the smooth, uncluttered way in which the story unfolds: it's a very easy read, worthwhile only for a train journey or a trip to the doctor's.

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