Thursday, July 18, 2019

Horror Fiction Help XX

Wow, the 20th post in my quest to help horror fans find forgotten books and stories! These descriptions have me stumped, so can anyone help ID these works? Thanks in advance y'all!  

1. Paperback, cover mostly black, front cover illustration of an evil or feral-looking naked woman lying on grass, glaring angrily up at the us, the viewer. She was on her side in a semi-foetal position, so no NSFW frontal nudity is visible, her head is totally bald, her skin seemed to be overly veiny or tautly muscled (to emphasize she isn’t meant to be attractive or alluring) and she may have been clutching a kind of laurel wreath to herself. The synopsis described a little boy discovered alone with his entire town/village community vanished, and when questioned about it he can only furiously draw a naked bald woman on the ground, like the one on the cover. I can’t remember if he is the main character grown up, or the main character.

2. My aunts left a paperback around in the early '80s, might be a late '70s publication. Simian hybrids reminiscent of Lovecraft's Arthur Jermyn live in tunnels below a town. They're extremely sexually voracious and the author lavishes detail on how their massive and agile genitalia turn women into blissed-out hostages. (There's a mutation where the tip of the urethra can extend as a kind of "mouth," with its own tongue if I recall correctly.) There's an assault on the tunnel system that fails, leaving the women happily pregnant. I'm sure there's a lot more context but it was a lot to process.   

3. Late ’70s or early ’80s: the cover was purple and had the embossed, in black, wide-stretched jaws of a big cat, all fangs and stuff, alluringly emblazoned upon it.  Or maybe it was the open maw of a panther of some sort.  I could have sworn the book was about an ancient evil/demon being released and its grisly killing spree in a museum of some sort.    

4. An orphan who goes to live with some wealthy relatives, an uncle (I believe) who seems nice but is actually super creepy. There's also either a young girl who might be another relative or maybe household servants who is not mentally stable and has been raped by someone (there was a real ick factor in this one that really didn't compare with other gothic books I've read). I feel like puppets or dolls might have been involved - like the uncle collected them or made them as a hobby or something).  I know the writer was responsible for at least several more gothics. I also know they weren't one of the super famous/more talented writers. No Victoria Holt (under any name), Daphne Du Maurier, or Mary Stewart here. It was also definitely not Phyllis Whitney, Dorothy Eden, or Dorothy Daniels as I've read and own many books by them and would have remembered that.     

5. A werewolf tale. A homeless man, or a hobo, or some kind of derelict, unfortunate soul, cursed with lycanthropy. He lived in the basement of an abandoned building of some sort, maybe a house, or a factory. The story might have been told through his journal entries, but I'm not sure. What I remember most vividly though, was that he had a radio that he would turn on occasionally, as a sort of reward to himself. He didn't want to use up all the batteries. The story might have taken place in the 50's.  

6. A magazine in the 1970s (one of those with lots of sci-fi and horror tales) and featured a monster that lived in a junk yard named Otto. That's about all I can remember about it. I was wondering if you might know the story name and author.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Koko by Peter Straub (1988): Born Down in a Dead Man's Town

In a way the Vietnam War was an Eighties war, much as we revisited it in that decade and as its after-effects began to be confronted in our most popular culture. After 1975, people weren't eager to talk about it; the wound still fresh, the stitches still in place. Of course there had been books and movies in the previous decade, like The Deer Hunter and Dispatches, Going After Cacciato and Coming Home, but an Eighties character such as Rambo (and even a performer like Bruce Springsteen from that era) more embodied a perfect wish fulfillment fantasy for the decade of excess, as the damaged national psyche transformed itself into oiled, striated, male musculature pushed to the limit of human endurance. We're back, baby! Nothing's gonna stop us now.

Peter Straub's entry into this cultural reckoning of the conflict was his ambitious 1988 novel Koko (Signet Books paperback, July 1989, cover by Robert Korn). One of the most ubiquitous of all 1980s paperback novels found in many a used bookstore's horror section, Koko's cover art of primary colors and thick, high-contrast spine has captured my eye for years. It wasn't ever very high on my to-read list, however, as I knew it was more mainstream thriller and that it dealt with Vietnam, which was not my thing at all when I was in my early twenties (despite the fact that I was devouring films like the aforementioned Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, but that was because they happened to be great '70s movies, not because they were about Vietnam). How glad I am that I finally took the leap and read it!

 Straub in 1988

Straub's book is about four men, Vietnam vets who served together, on a journey, circling around a secret, a secret unknowable and unimaginable, a secret that may not even have happened: a Schrodinger's cat event of battletime horror. Michael Poole, Harry Beevers, Tina Pumo, Conor Linklater: a children's doctor whose marriage is breaking up, an asshole lawyer, a NYC restaurateur in over his head, an unambitious carpenter. In shades of Straub's horror breakthrough Ghost Story (1979), these men live their lives around a horrible event; in this case, something that happened in a cave in the Vietnamese village of Ia Thuc during the war, akin to the real-life My Lai massacre. Koko opens with a powerful, resonant, emotional scene of the men reuniting after more than a decade in Washington DC to visit the Vietnam Memorial:

For Poole, the actual country of Vietnam was now just another place... its history and culture had briefly, disastrously intersected ours. But the actual country of Vietnam was not Vietnam; that was here, in these American names and faces.


Having learned of a serial killer named Koko in southeast Asia who may be one of their fellow vets from their old combat unit, the four men begin an international search: Beevers, Poole, and Linklater travel to Asia to track him down; Pumo remains in New York and deals with the demons of restaurant management and a one-night stand that goes horribly wrong. Visiting Singapore and Bangkok, the three men begin searching for answers no one can give them, carousing East Asian bars and whorehouses, being taken to secret shows in dingy basements where humans are killed for expensive thrills, plumbing their own natures in that Heart of Darkness manner. These colorful travelogue sequences are interspersed with scenes from the war, and we meet the other soldiers in their unit: Manuel Dengler, Tim Underhill, Victor Spitalny... who is Koko? What is Koko? Fortunate reader, you will learn.

In the eerie and violent chapters featuring the title character, Koko's psychic state reminds me very much of Francis Dollarhyde in Red Dragon: the cunning, the mania, the grandiosity, the sick poetry of it, and this bit about "the nearness of ultimate things." It's a dead-eyed glare, an interiorized fantasy world so powerful that he must remake the real world in trauma. While Straub does not trade in the same forensic ingenuity as that Thomas Harris title, the madnesses of men and its origins are kindred: "God's hand hung in the air, pointing at him."

By far my favorite sequence—in a novel filled with great sequences—is a trip to Milwaukee to track down Spitalny's and Dengler's families. This visit to a sad, broken, gloomy town to speak with sad, broken, gloomy people is a glimpse into a part of America that isn't a beacon of shining hope: these are people with petty approaches to life, who exile themselves from the main street of life and gloat over past pain, who never seem to grow out of the small-minded provincialites, who cripple themselves and indulge in the small sick sadistic voice that whispers of their inadequacy and vanity. Small-town America, as horror reminds us over and over and over, is rife with the evil of banality.

One of the criticisms/complaints I hear against Straub is that he is long-winded, pretentious, ponderous, boring. I mean, I guess I can see that. He writes big books and he's not just writing scary ones; he's after bigger prey. So yes, Straub, for all his expansive depiction of human nature in its deeps and valleys, also often obscures certain details from the reader, leaving them to ponder if they missed a sentence or phrase or snatch of dialogue somewhere along the line. No, that's not it: Straub uses implication, a shaded eye, to keep some aspects of the narrative in doubt. And indeed, the central trauma at the center—that village massacre involving these men when they were young soldiers—is open to interpretation.

What I'm saying is: Straub doesn't always tell you everything you need to know. Is this a literary pretense? Is it lazy writing? Or is it because the truth, for all we venerate it, is unknowable, unfixed, changeable through the stories we tell? Not for nothing has Straub created a character who has written the short stories Straub has already written ("Blue Rose" and "The Juniper Tree") and published. Meta-fiction has been hot for a long time now, authors winking at us from inside the pages of their own work, but Straub's version is not whimsical, ironic, jokey, or cute; it simply is. We write our stories every day; this is as commonplace an idea as the fact that sometimes an author doesn't even know what his story is about. So let's keep things interesting by keeping some things in the dark. But illumination can come from an unexpected source: as one character thinks to himself while reading a paperback novel called The Dead Zone during his travels: "Improbability and violence overflowed flowed from everyday life, and Stephen King seemed to know that." That's good stuff.

To readers who like their horror graphic and nasty, I'd say there's nothing here for you; this is not that kind of novel. To readers who like to step off into a larger landscape of human tragedy, Koko is recommended. Straub is not trying to scare the reader; there are no attempts at jump scares or spine chills. These fears dissipate in the morning light. "The nearness of ultimate things" he notes again and again, an existential mantra that implies a whole host of misery and revelation: those are frightening things in and of themselves.


This is the kind of full-on novel that takes up a lot of space in your head; this review has touched on only a portion of what it offers. Straub's fine and thoughtful prose, rich vein of humanity, eye and ear for marital discord, and ability to launch widescreen emotional horrors of deep, profound impact, will satisfy the discerning reader. For such a thick tome (600 pages), the story moves along weightlessly, fleet-footed yet penetrating, disturbing but empathetic, never bogged down in useless detail or dialogue, everything in its right place. The climax is in another unlit cavern in a modern American city, where everything meets one final time, where "eternity happened all at once, backwards and forward."

Reviews found online range from "masterpiece" to "meh," but I can tell from some of those "meh"s that the readers were expecting a giant feast of guttural horror—which Koko surely is not. Two volumes follow in a very loose trilogy: Mystery (1990) and The Throat (1993), and I know little about either, but I've added them to my must-read list. Koko might not be a perfect novel—perhaps its sights are sometimes beyond its reach—which is not even something that needs to be said, but for the adventurous horror fan who doesn't mind the occasional foray into non-supernatural madness, a huge armored tank of a book that looks into one of America's darker eras... Koko is singing a song you'll want to hear.

Couldn't believe Straub himself retweeted me...!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Livre des Poches de L'enfer: The Cover Art of Marc Demoulin

Lay your les yeux upon the covers of these French paperbacks, translations of well-known horror novels by some of our favorite writers. Part of a series called Presses Pocket—Terreur, which started these editions in the late 1980s. I could find out nothing about the artist, Marc Demoulin, but really, what would you need to know? In most cases it seems he read or at least was familiar with each book's content; I appreciate the little piece of setting featured at the top coupled with surreal horrific imagery. Bon travail!

First up are some Graham Mastertons, Picture of Evil, Wells of Hell, and the first two Manitou titles. Check out American editions here. I love our petit homme!

Next up, mon cheries, are the titles that comprise Anne Rice's monumental original trilogy known as The Vampire Chronicles. I haven't read these three novels in almost 30 years, but man did I dig them back then.

A couple James Herberts, The Survivor and The Fog, the latter of which is one of my favorite covers here; that sickly yellowish haze is c’est parfait.

Ooh, how about Thomas Tryon's two early '70s powerhouses? J'adore the skeleton poking out of that scarecrow's pants...

Nightwing was an early bestseller from Martin Cruz-Smith, an author more known for his espionage thrillers and such than horror fiction.

Two of Ray Garton's perhaps most (in)famous novels, one which was comme ci comme ├ža, while the other was magnifique!

And le finale: Peter Straub's first supernatural horror novel Julia, and his towering Ghost Story: the latter mingles sex and death perfectly and, mon ami, let me tell you, I am ici for it.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Twins by Bari Wood & John Geasland (1977): I Against I

In the old country, they say twins are cursed... 
not one person, yet less than two...
 that's what they say. 
But we believe in escaping curses, don't we?... 
Two such fine boys... 
you want them to grow up to be individuals; 
husbands, fathers, menschen... 
separate them now, as much as possible
—or they won't grow up...

Several years before her wonderful novel The Tribe, Bari Wood wrote a different book about a small band of outsiders who form an insiders' bond for the sake of survival in an uncomprehending world. With medical writer Jack Geasland, she gave us Twins (Signet, May 1978), a deft and sure-handed shocker that became the basis for David Cronenberg's masterpiece 1988 movie Dead Ringers. Forget what you know about that film,  because Cronenberg used only the very basic concept: two men, twin gynecologists and their symbiotic relationship and gradual self-destruction (based, again loosely, on a true story). A horror-adjacent thriller, its penetrating portrait of these two (?) men will appeal to anyone who appreciates a deep dive into the genetic swamp and its attendant creep factor.

What makes Twins such a gripping read is the authors' expert plumbing of the labyrinthine psychological, emotional, and sexual underpinnings of the Ross brothers, David and Michael. Born in New York City in what is probably the late 1940s, the twins experience a blooming adolescence with the usual signposts of Jewish youth of the era: summer camp in the Catskills, tentative discussions with sympathetic dad about college and career, fumbling sexual encounters with promiscuous girls ("You're just little babies, ain't you?"), and being weirded out by old Jewish men who make frightening prophetic pronouncements to young boys, as in the quote at top. There's also the little matter of David and Michael being entirely too close: "When David guided Michael's hand inside his pajamas, Michael stroked David the way he wanted him to."  

Anyone who reads 1970s and '80s horror/thriller paperbacks is aware of their unsettling prevalence of incest, and in Twins we have the dreaded twincest. Generally I grit my teeth and plow through this kind of thing, but in Twins, the Rosses are so emotionally and psychologically twined together that their physical intimacy is a foregone conclusion: the scene I just quoted from is on pages 30-31, and it's hinted at on the back cover above: more-than-brotherly love.
Pan Books UK, 1978, cover artist unknown

The authors use subtle clues to the similar-yet-different natures of Michael and David, yet it is still apparent that David is the dominant brother and Michael the more sensitive—yet it is Michael who wants to live a life free of his lineage. It is Michael to whom that old man speaks; it is David who never though their identities "were a curse"; and it is David who sabotages Michael's attempts at attending a different medical school while Michael is ill. While in their early 20s, their relationships with women are, to put it mildly, rather sleazy, and the two very good-looking brothers develop an unsavory reputation for fucking... Everybody and anybody.

When Kathy Field, the girlfriend of a medical colleague piques Michael's interest, David is wary: "Still thinking about the shiksa? Anders' girlfriend could mean trouble for us, Michael..." But Kathy is fascinated by the twins, how could men look like that? and when Michael asks her out despite her boyfriend and despite David, she is delighted. Thus begins a romantic relationship between Kathy and Michael, and David can't stand the thought of his brother being alone with a woman (neither has ever been alone with a woman—that's their kink, being with women together or as couples). What's David do? Starts a homosexual relationship (David was impressed with the neatness of the experience) with another doctor, Romer, who wants David to go to Boston with him and open a practice. You can't stay with your brother your whole life, Romer tells him...

All this I've described is simply the beginning. There is a lot to unpack in Twins, which is what I really enjoyed about the book—the twisting betrayals, the complex interplay of David's possessive instinct, Michael's growing anxiety and his use and abuse of drugs and alcohol. The sexual aspect isn't erotic but it is a very strong undercurrent in the lives of everyone involved. Twins is an adult novel, which I found refreshing: there are hospital politics, medical discoveries, an awareness of class and sophistication and religion in the characters' lives, in how they speak and interact and navigate the wealthy New York and Boston worlds. We are shown that these are ambitious, intelligent, emotional people.

At one point, Michael becomes obsessed with the quietness of the cancer ward, and even begins an affair with one of the dying women. It is heartbreaking. Wood and Geasland get inside these complicated people in that smooth mainstream manner that is a balm to my often pulp-horror-addled brain. At one point David and Romer are staying at a Cape Ann beach home, and David muses at what a perfect gentile vacation spot it is, and recalls his father's words about how "gentiles are a different breed, the goyim never enjoy themselves unless they're uncomfortable... It'll be the same way with women, with your patients..."

French edition, 1990, cover by Marc Demoulin

So then Twins is not exactly a horror novel, but there is suspense and dread, for we know what is going to happen to these men. Kathy leaves Michael, who spirals into drug abuse, and it's hinted that David is orchestrating his brother's downfall. These men were doomed from the womb, a tragedy neither could have avoided but one tried and failed. Wood and Geasland have written a satisfying psychological thriller that I recommend to those who enjoyed The Tribe, the Cronenberg film adaptation, and also to fans of the chilly Neiderman novel Pin. If you can get past the utter squickiness of David and Michael's relationship, as I did because of the exceptional skill the authors used in telling their twisted story, you'll find Twins, in the parlance of the day, unputdownable.

Me reading Twins at Wallowa Lake

Thursday, May 30, 2019

RIP Dennis Etchison (1943-2019)

Author and editor Dennis Etchison, whose finely-wrought, enigmatic tales of psychological horror were some of the best of the 1980s, has died at age 76. Born in Stockton, CA, he had deep roots in the genre and was mentored by writers like Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, and George Clayton Johnson. Etchison didn’t set out to be a horror writer. He has been referred to as a writer of “dark fantasy” or “quiet horror,” and in an interview with journalist Stanley Wiater in the book Dark Dreamers (1990), the author states that he found himself in the horror genre “sort of by accident.” Etchison began writing and publishing science fiction stories in the 1960s, but as the market for short genre fiction changed, he found his work gained more acceptance in the burgeoning horror fiction field of the 1970s.

Etchison is perhaps best described as a horror writer's horror writer: while prolific, he never achieved mainstream name recognition, but he was very highly respected by virtually every other horror writer working in the '80s and '90s. I discovered Etchison while I was still in high school with a copy of Red Dreams given to me by an aunt who also enjoyed horror paperbacks. However I was more taken at the time by his editorial skills; his 1986 anthology Cutting Edge was filled with mature, challenging, utterly weird and sometimes graphically violent stories by some of the best writers working then. Later I would become enamored of Etchison's unique talents when I read his first short story collection, 1984's Dark Country.

Etchison wrote novels like Shadow Man and California Gothic for the Dell Abyss line. A lifelong movie buff, Etchison studied film in college, and later produced many novelizations for horror films, including several Halloweens, Carpenter's Fog, and Cronenberg's Videodrome (under the pseudonym Jack Martin, which was also the name of one of his recurring protagonists). He assisted Stephen King with film references in King's classic 1981 nonfiction study Danse Macabre. His expert editorial skills were seen again in Masters of Darkness (1986-91) and MetaHorror (1992).

In the early 1990s Etchison was president of the Horror Writers Association. In later years he continued to write and adapted Rod Serling's original Twilight Zone scripts into radio dramas. Often nominated for various genre awards, he won many for his short fiction, and in 2016 was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the HWA. He was also, going by the remembrances on social media, a heckuva guy who will be much missed by the horror community.

Dennis Etchison 
(March 30, 1943 – May 28, 2019)

Friday, May 24, 2019

Carnosaur by Harry Adam Knight (1984): Bang a Gong Get It On

I can't imagine it'd surprise you to learn that I was a pretty mean dinosaur fanatic when I was a kid in the 1970s. Visits to the local library were never complete without a stack of books on these fantastic creatures. Most of these titles were from the '50s and '60s and out of date by the time I was reading them, illustrated by timid little black-and-white pencil sketches of tail-dragging creatures, but I still recall with great fondness two from that actual decade:

A family trip to New York's American Museum of Natural History when I was in second or third grade allowed me to see the immense fossils in person. Relatives would ask me to name the various dinos, which I could rattle off pretty easily (I could also do the same with classic monster movies thanks to the infamous Crestwood series). There was this early '70s model kit. Lots of plastic toys. Factor in the original King Kong, movies like The Land that Time Forgot, oh and especially the bottom-of-the-barrel TV movie The Last Dinosaur, with a drunk Richard Boone battling a Tyrannosaurus and other baddies in a land at the center of the earth. Or how about the actual Journey to the Center of the Earth? Or The Lost World? And who can forget Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder"? So. Yeah. Dinosaurs.

In 1993 I went to see Spielberg's adaptation of Jurassic Park twice the weekend it opened and was well rewarded: yep, that's the stuff I've been wanting to see since I was a kid. I even went to the mall afterwards and bought the T. Rex, the toy I had dreamed of all my childhood (just the right size have battled an alien or eaten a rebel!) and proudly displayed it in all my homes for over 20 years. All of this brings me to...

Harry Adam Knight was a pseudonym used for a small handful of pulp novels by John Brosnan (sometimes with the assist of Leroy Kettle), a prolific Australian author who also wrote nonfiction genre studies. A fleet-footed, old-fashioned thriller with plenty of gore, in the tradition of James Herbert, Carnosaur (Star Books, June 1984 UK/Bart Books, Feb 1989 US) is as solid a trashy paperback horror novel as one could want. Knight ticks all the boxes and doesn't muck about with the unnecessaries. This is pulp horror done right: mean, nasty, brutish, and short. Sometimes every character is so glum and rude you kinda think, Jeez, doesn't anyone have a nice polite word to say? Everyone's all Johnny Rotten all the time. Kill the lot of 'em. Unpleasant, ungrateful, folk fodder for the dinosaur. Right... now.

Our tale begins at 2:17 a.m. sharp when a poultry farmer is woken by his wife ("fat lazy cow" he thinks. See what I mean? What a turd) because their chickens are squawking up a ruckus. Of course, you're reading a book called Carnosaur so you know what's about to happen when Rudie McRuderson goes out to investigate. And it does. Then the action switches to two teens doing it in the backseat and it's more of the same, with some class-consciousness woven in as British pulp fiction seems to always do: "She'd been flattered to have been picked up by someone who was so upper-class. Well, sort of upper class."

Daytime: David Pascal is a late 20s guy working as a "journalist" at a newspaper that's barely a newspaper in the small English town of Warchester, "where nothing exciting ever happened." He's just dumped his wonderful girlfriend, a coworker named Jenny, because of his dreams of leaving for a job on a Fleet Street scandal rag. Who knows when that'll happen since those papers keep ignoring his applications. So here Pascal is, still working on a paper that's practically a local business flyer and having awkward moments with Jenny in the office. But you're reading a book called Carnosaur, so you know that Warchester is gonna offer up something soon that Fleet Street dared never dream.

Sir Darren Penward (erroneously referred to as "Sir Penward" throughout the novel) is Warchester's wealthy eccentric, the big-game hunter with his own personal zoo on his vast estate, filled with exotic and dangerous animals—including his ravenous nympho wife, Lady Jane. But again, you're reading a book called Carnosaur, and you know that Warchester will soon be under siege by animals much more exotic and dangerous than *yawn* tigers and panthers. The police begin their investigation, and Sir Penward blames the attacks on an escaped Siberian tiger. Pascal suspects a cover-up, and along with a reluctant Jenny, begins some investigation of his own. This leads him into the clutches of Lady Jane (aka Lady Fang, and looking "like something out of The Story of O"), well-known amongst the locals for her penchant of seducing younger men while her husband tends to his menagerie. Pascal realizes he can use her to get inside the zoo to peek around. That can't be a bad idea, can it?

Pascal has a confrontation with Penward in which all is revealed about how these extinct monsters are suddenly alive again: the painstaking genetic process that the obsessed Penward explains almost like a Bond villain, which leaves Pascal muttering, "Incredible. Chickens into dinosaurs." Brosnan's science when it comes to dinos sounds pretty spot-on to me from what I recall of more modern paleontology books, and the distinction between dinosaurs—terrestrial prehistoric creatures—and other ancient reptiles will prove more important than anyone but an actual scientist could imagine. But you're reading a book called Carnosaur so that shouldn't surprise you. I don't need to rehash the rest: Brosnan does nothing new with the plot—but that's entirely beside the point. This baby zips along with a confident rhythm and pacing precisely because the author doesn't try to add new twists or turns to his narrative (indeed I could have done with less "You've got to believe me, dinosaurs are in the streets, there's no time to explain!" but that is to quibble). Pulp is, in essence, comfort reading.

Brosnan, 1947-2005

Okay, okay, I'm getting to it: the "carno" part of the title. Well, gentle reader, you won't be disappointed. The residents of Warchester—the ones still alive—woke up to a world that was vastly different to the one they'd gone to sleep in. Brosnan serves up the grue that satisfies. Behold: Tarbosaurus, a T. Rex in everything but name, wreaks delightful havoc wherever it goes; Deinonychus, with its scythe-clawed foot that it uses like a prehistoric exponent of Kung-Fu, guts hapless farmers and other locals from neck to groin; and a plesiosaur joins a boating party that none of the invitees will soon forget: After a long, stunned silence a man's voice said, with an edge of hysteria to it, "Well, you've got to say one thing for good old Dickie; he sure throws a hell of a party..." Brosnan doesn't quite take it to ridiculous Dinosaur Attacks! levels, but pulp fans should still have plenty to chew on. Sex, violence, nerdy dino facts: Carnosaur has it all.

Above I mentioned Jurassic Park, and I can't leave this review without mentioning that Carnosaur features many facets that would become famous, indeed iconic, when Spielberg adapted Crichton's 1990 bestseller: chase scenes, close calls, and especially the scientific basis of resurrecting dinos are all first seen in this novel (itself adapted into a post-JP cheapie by Roger Corman). While I've never had much interest in Crichton's fiction, after reading this I feel I need to see if Crichton really did read a book called Carnosaur... or if it's simply a case of a great idea whose time had, like the dinosaurs, come again.