Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bestial, (Leisure Fiction), by Ray Garton

“Bestial” moves at a blistering pace. Where “Ravenous” succeeded by instilling a creeping sense of horror, “Bestial” triumphs in its intrigue as the werewolves spread their influence throughout Big Rock. The humans aren't toothless in this installment, however, as surprise guests from another Garton novel make an appearance. Private investigators Gavin Keoph and Karen Moffet have been hired to investigate the strange events in Big Rock, and they're packing loads of silver.

Since the werewolves' first strike, they've moderated their virulent spread. Slowly, they've worked their way through town, planting their roots. Next up is a large Seventh Day Adventist Church. Through it, the werewolves hope to strengthen their position.

Numerous unexplained “animal attacks” haven't escaped outside notice, however. Successful horror novelist Martin Burgess – always interested in the occult – is convinced something is amiss in Big Rock. He hires Gavin and Karen to investigate. They've been through territory like this before, however, (with an entirely different nocturnal, sub-human species), and they both bear scars from Burgess' miscalculations. Both wonder if Burgess has miscalculated again, and if this time their lives will be the payment.

They're right to wonder. A horrifying change has come to the werewolves. They're evolving, becoming something new. Better. Perfect. All the silver in the world may be useless, and it's very likely that Gavin and Karen's scars may be mere scratches compared to what they'll endure this round.

“Bestial” is a gripping follow-up to “Ravenous”, primarily because it invokes an entirely different set of emotions. That's what makes for a truly successful series: installments that build, rather than rehash themes. “Ravenous” throbs with tragedy as jaded, disconnected, abused and naive townspeople spread the werewolf virus all by themselves. In “Bestial”, there's not only the sense of impending comeuppance, but also the revelation the werewolf virus isn't necessarily the curse it seems. Even though there's more closure here, Garton still leaves trailing threads, hinting at an explosive confrontation in the next installment.

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