by Ramsey Campbell (1979)
Ramsey Campbell’s John Horridge is one of the most believable psychopaths I’ve read. His extreme homophobia and irrational paranoia make it a disconcerting, but interesting read, as most of The Face That Must Die takes us into his inner thoughts and ravings.
It’s little wonder that Campbell based the character on someone with schizophrenia that he knew well, his own mother. The perspective is eerie and realistic.
The other characters: drug abusing boyfriends, artists, and struggling young women and the settings, like a depressing housing estate, are equally vivid in the hands of Campbell, who is highly regarded in the horror genre (this is the first I’ve read by him).
The strange photo real montage illustrations by JK Potter, however, do not really reflect the mood and descriptions in the book, which takes place in the 1970’s in Liverpool. They will however raise the eyebrows of anyone looking over your shoulder at what you are reading.
I’d be curious to read more from Campbell, as this is a unique, unnerving take on the oft repeated serial killer novel.