A former professor offers film critic Simon the chance of a lifetime—to write a book on one of the greatest long-lost comedians of the silent-film era, Tubby Thackeray. Simon is determined to find out the truth behind the jolly fat man's disappearance from film—and from the world.
Tubby's work carries the unmistakable stamp of the macabre. People literally laughed themselves to death during his performances. Soon, wherever Simon goes, laughter—and a clown's wide, threatening grin—follow. Is Simon losing his mind? Or is Tubby Thackeray waiting for him to open the door back to the world?
Ramsey Campbell has won a dozen British Fantasy and World Fantasy Awards and three Bram Stoker Awards. A new Campbell novel is an opportunity to delight in the craftsmanship of an extraordinary writer.
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Horror Grand Master Campbell (The Overnight) draws on the eeriness of clowns, silent comedians and wordless struggles to communicate in this unsettling surrealist fable. Disgraced film critic Simon Lester is writing a book on obscure silent film star Tubby Thackeray, whose outrageous shenanigans caused riots and madness in his audiences. Thanks to Thackeray's blacklisted status and nasty habit of paranormally pestering Simon, research on the book is as difficult and tedious as Simon's personal life, which decays as he struggles to demonstrate his competence while wrestling with forces that are swiftly driving him insane. Campbell's impeccable grasp of interpersonal dynamics makes Simon's confusion all the more cringe-worthy, though the narrative tension stumbles over meticulously reproduced, seemingly endless Internet arguments, and when the characters can't communicate with one another, they have trouble reaching the reader, too. The tale sometimes bows under its own weight, but mostly stands as a fine example of good scares delivered with class.