Friday, January 25, 2013

Jim Rook series by Graham Masterton
A Review by Anthony Servante

Graham Masterton

Bio: "Graham Masterton's first novel, The Manitou, was a bestseller and an instant classic and was made into a feature film. Masterton has won an Edgar Award and France's prestigious Prix Julia Verglanger. Several of his stories have been adapted for television. Masterton's more than one hundred novels include "Charnel House, The Chosen Child," and "Maiden Voyage" (a" New York Times" bestseller). He has written for adults, young adults, and children and edited several anthologies. Earlier in his career, Masterton edited men's magazines, including "Penthouse," He has written a number nonfiction books on sex, including "How to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed," which has sold more than three million copies."

  My first GM book

I’ve read the work of Graham Masterton since THE MANITOU (1983), and I credit this book, as well as James Herbert’s RATS, and F. Paul Wilson’s THE KEEP for ushering in the Silver Age of Horror. I’ve read Masterton’s books as they were released, but lost track of his latest work for a few years into the new Millennium. Thus, I missed the Rook Series. So, it’s been my pleasure catching up with those years I’d lost. The Jim Rook books have an everyman hero who has a dire gift: He can see creatures of the dead. This is not just seeing “dead people”; he sees demons, vengeful spirits, and mythological monsters. And Graham really does his homework to find these creatures. He starts with familiar territory from his Manitou series by exploring Indian culture for his other-world beasts, but also enters the legends of Alaskan, Korean, and other cultures for more vengeful undead.

So, let’s begin our synopsis of the Jim Rook Series to date.

In 1997 Graham Masterton released ROOK, about a high school remedial teacher who investigates supernatural cases. Jim Rook almost died at an early age, but he managed to overcome the pneumonia; this miracle blessed him with the ability to see ghosts. He uses this power to help one of his students who is charged with murder, and faces the realities behind local legends and superstitions, just as Harry Erskine in the Manitou series traverses Native American mythos to find real demons at work therein.

That same year TOOTH AND CLAW was also released. More Native American myths are explored as Rook explores the culture of the Navajo Indians. One of his students is found murdered and two Navajos are arrested. Jim Rook faces the Coyote, a mythical creature of horrifying dimensions. His gift for seeing beyond this world guide his investigation and assist him in dealing with the Coyote.

The following year THE TERROR gave us Jim Rook’s third venture into the supernatural. This time out his investigation leads us into the Mayan’s mystical beliefs and rituals. One of Rook’s students, a young Mexican boy, dabbles in the black arts of ancient Mexico and unleashes a manifestation of fear. It is up to Rook to stop this monster that grows stronger as it kills more and more victims.

SNOWMAN (1999), the fourth Jim Rook book, explores the supernatural side of the Inuit Alaskans. As the title infers, the demon can control ice. After this creature is cheated by the father of Jack Hubbard, one of Jim’s students, the campus where Jim teaches is ravaged by icy accidents in the middle of summer, some indeed very gruesome. Rook must learn about the Inuit in order to deal with the Snowman.

SWIMMER (2002) takes us on Rook’s fifth adventure into the mythos of supernatural culture. This time the revenge-seeking demon is a female spirit who is killing students and friends of Jim Rook, using water as a means of vengeance. Rook must use his ghostly talents to figure out why this spirit is killing those around him and find a way to stop it.

DARKROOM (2004) brings us to the sixth in the Jim Rook series. A dangerous spirit that inverts people’s souls, that is, turns their lighter side into a darker version with horrific results. The myth about the camera capturing a person’s soul is explored by Rook as he investigates cases of murder involving spontaneous combustion. For those familiar with Graham Masterton’s oeuvre, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the parallels to Family Portrait, one of my favorite reads.

DEMON’S DOOR (2011) enters the mythology of Korean demons, namely, Kwisin, who has brought Rook’s dead cat back to life, but for a price. The payment Rook must pay is the driving force behind this story as Graham Masterton again delves into a supernatural culture to find a new creature to unleash on humanity. As usual, Jim Rook uses his ghost vision to deal with the demon.

GARDEN OF EVIL (2013) is the eighth and the latest in the Jim Rook series. Here the mythos is Biblical, or Christian in nature, that is, the concept of Heaven and Hell are addressed. Heaven, of course, is seen as Paradise, while Hell is destruction and death without reward (as in no afterlife). Rook investigates another series of sinister deaths, many victims positioned in grotesque poses. The violence here is creepier because of the religious themes that are more familiar to many readers, unlike the religious leanings from the “Mayans” or “Inuit” per se where we are introduced to the creatures for the first time. For instance, a fallen angel is far more frightening than an ice creature to a person of faith, and Masterton knows how to turn the screws on his audience. The gothic overtones bore a similarity to those in other religious classics such as The EXORCIST for example, only Garden of Evil anted up the gruesome killings. I enjoyed the consistency of the Rook books: mythic creatures in an unpredictable setting and narrative. Rook is a sympathetic hero whose adventures into the supernatural are stories that one can’t help but read in one sitting.

No comments:

Post a Comment