Masterful and macabre short fiction from the New York Times–bestselling author of Swan Song.
Father John has lived his whole life without knowing a woman’s touch. Hard at first, his self-denial grew easier over time, as he learned to master his urges with a regimen of prayer, cold showers, and jigsaw puzzles. That changed the day that Debra Rocks entered his confessional. A rough-talking adult film actress, she has come to ask him to pray for a murdered costar. Her cinnamon perfume infects Father John, and after she departs he becomes obsessed. Around the corner from his church is a neon-lit alley of sin. He goes there hoping to save her life before he damns himself. That is “Blue World,” the novella that anchors this collection of chilling stories by Robert R. McCammon. Although monsters, demons, and murderers fill these pages, in McCammon’s world the most terrifying landscape of all is the barren wasteland of a lost man’s soul.
Rapid-fire action alternating with intense introspection, plus imagery that conjures visions of movie special effects, make McCammon's ( The Wolf's Hour ) multifaceted collection of new and reprinted tales worthwhile despite some uninspired story lines. In the title novella, Father John Lancaster battles temptations of the flesh and becomes a better priest as he saves the life of a cocaine-snorting porn queen. At the end of the world, described in ``Something Passed By,'' the laws of nature go awry: water becomes combustible, concrete turns to quicksand, people move swiftly toward old age or infancy. A Vietnam veteran's nightmares materialize in ``Nightcrawlers,'' yielding terror and death for his associates. ``He'll Come Knocking at Your Door'' trivializes the Faustian pact by having the devil arrive for trick-or-treat on Halloween to collect his due. An old-fashioned cliff-hanger concludes each segment of ``Night Calls the Green Falcon,'' in which a retired cinema superhero takes up his cape again to stalk a real-life prostitute's murderer.