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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

Night of Broken Souls
by Thomas F. Monteleone
Warner Books
ISBN 0-446-52048-9
Trade paperback/400 pp./$21.00

If nothing else, the coming Millennium is beginning to offer us some proof that inventive writers can create new mythologies. With Night of Broken Souls, Thomas F. Monteleone offers us an original vision of evil. His last two novels proved him a master of possibly the soundest starting point of speculative writing -- "What if...?" In Blood of the Lamb he asked "What if Jesus Christ was cloned?" With The Resurrectionist he explored "What if a charismatic politician were granted the power to raise the dead?" In the new Night of Broken Souls we have the "what if" of this century's most indelible real evil, the Nazis, returning.

Monteleone, as we have come to expect, creates believable characters who draw the reader into fast-paced, well-plotted narrative written in a deceptively simple dark style. Although the book is cast as a thriller, it deals with the battle of Good versus Evil as much as Stephen King does in The Stand.

CoverFrom the multiple viewpoints of Monteleone's characters -- a cabby, an audio technician, a homemaker, a self-made businesswoman, a secret agent -- we glimpse nightmares in which they all remember dying in the Holocaust, sadistically tortured by Der Klein Engel, a Jewish minion of the monster Mengele. None of the terrified dreamers are Jewish and none were born before World War II. All are experiencing bizarre blackouts.

Psychiatrist Dr. J. Michael Keating begins to discover more than synchronicity as patients describe these disturbances. The work of a federally funded Ph.D. uncovers the sickening reality behind the dreams and an FBI agent and a rabbi discover that the dreamers are being shockingly and systematically killed, each with a death-camp tattoo appearing on the bodies.

Nazis? Haven't we played this tune enough? Not when a writer like Monteleone examines the idea. He gives us a new way to be disturbed by something that already scares us then tells the story effectively enough to make it all seem hideously new.

With his episodic style, Monteleone allows the reader just enough information and terror to keep the ropes of fascination tight. Night of Broken Souls offers the immediacy of a news flash while rendering a horror that deeply threatens one's psyche. The "seductive and poisonous logic of evil" can, the author intimates, entrap any of us. Call it what you like, but this is the kind of horror that stays with the reader. Slickly entertaining as it is, it indelibly etches itself onto ones' soul -- Paula Guran

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.