Vintage "animal attack" horror novels run a gamut in quality, from the classic to the why bother, from the pretty good to the not bad, from the so bad-it's-good to I think it's just dumb-bad—not to mention the flat-out WTF! So where does my first read of the new year, a brief novel of killer dogs on the loose called Manstopper, by Douglas Borton, fit on the list? I'm going to say between "pretty good" and "not bad." Unexpectedly tough n’ gnarly, this 1988 paperback original from Onyx/New American Library pulls no punches, and is written with a clear eye for typical suspense/horror scenarios injected with high-test potency for maximum-impact canine carnage.
"Douglas Borton" is a pseudonym of suspense author Michael Prescott—under which Manstopper has been reprinted today—and used for four other novels, also published by Onyx
Manstopper comes ripping out of the gate, telling us what killers these trained dogs are you're about to meet, the simplest security system, and the most perfect. These babies cost upwards of two large, but for something that cannot be reasoned with or bribed or befriended or outwitted or evaded, you know these puppies gotta be worth it. And pity poor van driver Mike Tuttle, whose cargo is four of these finely-tuned slobbering attack machines. And if that's not bad enough, Mike has the ill-considered idea to pick up a hitchhiker on this cold October night. Then things go sideways, literally even, for driver Mike as the no-shit surprise of the hitchhiker pulls a knife on him and forces him off the highway down a dirt road... The monsters now are loose: It was the morning of Tuesday, October 21, and though Sea Cove, New Jersey didn't know it yet, Halloween was coming early this year.
"[Razor] places a very high value on self-preservation. He would not fight a losing battle. Against overwhelming odds, he would the first to cut and run. Not out of cowardice, but cunning. And you couldn't stop him. His reflexes are quicker than yours—or mine."
He had been trained to leap and bark and slash... Cages and walls had no reality for him. The only reality was the throbbing sense of danger and the quiet, maniacal urge to destroy....