Jerry Carroll has invigorated the dramatic cliches of the traditional horror story in his latest work without abandoning the wit and whimsy that illuminates the best selling author’s five previous novels. The tribute to the slash-and-gore genre is there in the lurid cover of “The Horror Writer” and the plot unfolds not unexpectedly on a remote tropical island. But the narrative is Mr. Carroll at his most intriguing.
The island draws some of the world’s rich and influential people to a conference on international understanding sponsored by a prestigious foundation. Thom Hearn, weary founder of a money-making gang of hack writers, learns his invitation was a mistake, a telling point as gruesome violence besets the idle pursuits and exquisite dining of the guests. The staff members of the foundation are apologetic but not helpful as characters from Hearn;s own hack fiction join the bloody carnival.Hearn’s travails are shared by the cool Wall Street professional Carrie Alexander, who flees with him into the jungle’s green hell to escape the worst monster of all, a lopsided, flesh-rending creature who may be drawn from Hearn;s own nightmarish boyhood. The romantic thread is a traditional element and warmly welcome in this new experience of the old scary story.