PSYCHO MANIA, ed. by Stephen Jones. Herman Graf/Skyhorse Publishing (www.skyhorsepublishing.com), 2013, 532 pp., $14.95. ISBN 978-1-62873-816-2. Click here to purchase.
PSYCHO MANIA pays homage to the infamous novel (and Alfred Hitchcock film) created by Robert Bloch, who contributes not only a wonderful cover of the author himself voraciously wielding a knife, but a great introduction about how chilling “ordinary” people can be.
For “your reading pleasure,” (sorry, Alfred) here are the best:
“I Tell You It’s Love” by Joe R. Lansdale. What happens when two dangerous psychopaths are in love? To what ends will they go for their dark thrills?
“The Secret Laws of the Universe” by Steve Rasnic Tem. One man recognizes the soothing voice of his toaster, his car, and even a stolen gun speaking to him as he tracks down ways to escape his marriage.
“Let My Smile Be Your Umbrella” by Brian Hodge. One entity is trapped in the consciousness of a suicidal teenage girl, who holds more power over the darkness than anybody can imagine.
“The Trembling Living Wire” by Scott Edelman. Iz – a high school music teacher – sees the beauty in a student’s voice. That student is Cecelia – and Iz will do anything and everything to advance the cause to protect and enhance her voice, for all eternity. But sometimes the best-laid plans. . . .
“The Undertaker’s Sideline” by Robert Silverberg. It’s a grisly, gore-filled existence being an undertaker, even more so when the funeral guy has to get even more ghoulish to cover up his crime-ridden tracks.
“Hollywood Hannah” by Lisa Morton. Jennifer is a new graduate of film school and goes to work for the notorious film producer Hannah Ward, known more commonly as “Hollywood Hannah.” Hannah’s methods are stone-cold brutal – as Jennifer will soon know.
“The Finger” by David J. Schow. An unemployed IT professional finds things and keeps them, things left behind on the ground – a key, a lock, a watch, a shoe. This time he finds a finger and adds it to his “collection.” But the finger grows into a creature – a creature married to the IT guy’s best interests.
“Got To Kill Them All” by Dennis Etchison. One man who is contemplating a murder is one-upped by a kid hitchhiker.
“Essence” by Mark Morris. Older psychopaths meet their match in a victim who turns the table on them.
“Manners” by Conrad Williams. A loner really prefers to be careful to the environment, eating only “road kill,” but always observing his manners.
“All the Birds Come Home to Roost” by Harlan Ellison. A man is seeing all the women he dated come back to him, in reverse order, all the way back to a hellish marriage to a deranged, locked-away, psychopathic wife.
“Wide-Shining Light” by Rio Youers. Martin Sallis, private accountant, is reunited with an old friend, Richard Chalk, who Martin hasn’t seen in ages. What became of Richard? Apparently much more sinister things – and what Martin finds out is while he believed they had much in common, they really have nothing in common. Only Martin’s good fortune can save him.
“Eater” by Peter Crowther. A psychopath is in police custody, and is a cannibal – but who’s to say that because he is in lockdown the crimes would end?
“Failure” by Michael Marshall. A man will go to great lengths to protect his family, even going so far as to stop his serial killer son. Problem is, sometimes, some things run too strongly in a family.
“The Only Ending We Have” by Kim Newman and “Kriss Kross Applesauce” by Richard Christian Matheson are all about family. The Newman story is about a renegade stand-in for Janet Leigh, when the “Psycho” film star was working, who meets a man very much controlled by his evil mother. The Matheson story is about a woman who writes “family news” letters at Christmastime – religiously – who is a lot more wacky than you can imagine.
There is a story arc about a journalist visiting a psychiatric hospital that has some real teeth, the story of which act as “interstitial” chapters throughout the collection, all written by John Llewellyn Probert.