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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

The Fallen
Dale Bailey
Signet/ 281 pages/ $6.50 (Mass Marker PB)
ISBN: 0451207637

The best of run-of-the-genre (King-Koontz supernatural suspense mode) horror first novel from 2002 was Dale Bailey's The Fallen. A textbook example of clean, clear writing, it's everything a good old-fashioned paperback original horror novel should be: fine stock characters, a standard-but-not-stupid formula plot, straight-ahead, suspenseful, not too deep, and you can read it cover-to-cover on a relatively short flight.

Cover The story is set in the peaceful mining town of Saul's Run, West Virginia. The uncharacteristic suicide of The Rev. Quincy Sleep fetches his son, 29-year-old Henry Sleep, back to the Run after nearly a decade's absence. We already know from the "Prelude" that Something is imprisoned in the mountain. We know that Sheriff Harold Crawford is Not as He Seems to Be and that he has a hidden proclivity for killing. We soon find out that Henry and his pal Perry Holland, son of the local mine-owning family, had something Weird happen to them in one of the old mines when they were kids; that when the Something stirred briefly in years previous that the Run suffered a few bad weeks -- old people dying off in droves, fights breaking out, domestic violence and abuse. Returning to the present we meet Emily Wood, the Girl Henry Left Behind, and retired newspaperman (AKA the Older Wiser Friend Who Knows Some Facts), Ben Strange. They become the prerequisite

supporting-the-protagonist characters and the game's afoot. Did Pastor Sleep lose his faith and kill himself or was he murdered? In either case -- why? What's strange about Saul's Run? What did Henry and Perry see in that mine seventeen years ago? Is there really a Story that can Change Everything? Is it time to re-buckle my seatbelt, yet?

By the end as many questions have been answered as can be answered and there's a rational twenty-first century non-good vs. evil resolution. On the vastly varied menu of horror, The Fallen is closer to hot crispy French fries than haute cuisine. Skip the wine, order a soft drink and enjoy.

[I have one quibble-y question about The Fallen: Why did Pastor Sleep, despite an intellectual interest in theology and the Higher Questions, stay in a little church with a conservative Bible-believing congregation for 30 years? Not only is a 30-year tenure unheard of in most Christian denominations, it's simply out of character for the type of man described.] -- Cemetery Dance #44

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