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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

Salt Snake & Other Bloody Cuts
Simon Clark
Silver Salamander (available in hardback or trade paper)
UK: Order from BBR US: Order from jpelan@cnw.com/206-633-1930 (no ISBN)

Although Simon Clark authored a previous short fiction collection (BLOOD & GRIT, BBR Books, 1990, out of print) SALT SNAKE & OTHER BLOODY CUTS reads very much like a first collection -- an appellation that connotes at least some unevenness. Even at his "weakest," however, Clark still crafts evocative tales with mind-grabbing opening "hooks." At his best he writes with compelling characterization and indelible imagery as well.

This imagery is particular potent in "Gerassimos Flamotas: A Day in the Life" and "The Burning Doorway." Gerassimos Flamotas is a poor man who, for one million drachma, loans his mute daughter to a mysterious stranger from a yacht. Clark's rendering of what happens to corpses burned in a crematorium becomes an unforgettable flight of fiery fantasy in "The Burning Doorway."

Both "Acorns - A Bitter Substitute for Olives" and "Swallowing a Dirty Seed" have Arthur Machen-esque qualities that make one think twice about just how nasty Mother Nature might be. The protagonist is haunted by an audio tape that draws him, perhaps, into madness in the chilling "Eyes Like Ghosts" The author uses hard-hitting prose in "Blood for Sex Bites" and "Salt Snake" to portray harsh villains who wind up getting -- imaginatively -- what they deserve.

Not all of SALT SNAKE's twenty-five stories are as strong as others, but the collection is still definitely worthwhile. Clark's voice is an interesting, welcome one and he is an accomplished craftsman. -- Paula Guran

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.