Monday, September 19, 2005

CONSCIENCE by John Mason Skipp (Friendly Firewalk Press)

Every now and then I stumble across a book (or one is placed at my feet so that I may stumble upon it) that is so eye-opening that I feel the need to do a quick re-read. Such was the case with CONSCIENCE by John Mason Skipp.

Now, before I go further, it should be mentioned that John Skipp is half of the Skipp/Spector duo that wrote neo-horror novels for Bantam some years back, with bestselling (no, real bestselling, as in the New York Times) titles including THE LIGHT AT THE END and ANIMALS. You horror fans might remember (or own) some of these.

But CONSCIENCE shows that, not only has Skipp continued to write dynamically, he has progressed--and become quite literary.

The book tells the story of Charley Weber--not a nice fellow, really; he kills for a living, and rather enjoys it. Upon his arrival to Los Angeles, he sets out to make a violent point (massacre-style) for all the wrong (selfish) reasons. Until someone tries to put a stop to it (Who? Hint: read the title.)

Now before you start spouting off, saying "That sounds like Chuck Palahniuk! That sounds like Chuck Palahniuk!" I will agree that it is very Palahniukian, though heavier on the anger and lighter on the angst, if you catch my drift. More notably, Skipp's book reads like a balance between Stephen King (the first chapter, especially) and Will Christopher Baer (everything after the first chapter.) The writing is, at times, profane and perverse and graphic--but certainly a necessary part of the story, given the plot.

No matter what, it is a great read. It's the kind of book I wish Hollywood would pay attention to. Worth the price and worth the time!

Please note: the book also includes a handful of short stories and a full screenplay which I DID NOT read, so I cannot comment on them. Rest assured that I will read them, once I catch up on some more submissions. But, at a minimum, you can be sure you are getting your money's worth. This is good stuff.