Sunday, October 11, 2015

Top 20 Horror Novels - #16) The Snake by John Godey (from 1978)

Not only am I ranking my Top 20 Horror Movies for you this October, but I'm doing likewise with the scary books that I hold near and dear.  As with the movies that I'm discussing in that Top 20, I'm not attempting to rank these novels based on their place in pop culture, but rather their place in my heart.  Isn't that sweet?  Seriously, there are some fine books that didn't make the cut here because there just wasn't room, and there are definitely some well-regarded books that didn't make the cut because I don't really like them.  That also means there are some personal favorites of mine on this list that you may not have heard of.  If that's the case, I promise that I'll reward your trust with a gnarly tale if you give one of them a spin.  Finally, I may have shortchanged some of the titans in the genre (hey there, Stephen King) as I didn't want to overload this list with titles by the same author, though Uncle Stevie did manage to score three direct hits on my list.

The list thus far:

#20) Amok by George Fox (from 1980) 
#19) Manstopper by Douglas Borton (from 1988)
#18) Intensity by Dean Koontz (from 1995)

#17) The Terror by Dan Simmons (from 2007) 

Top 20 Horror Novels - #16) The Snake by John Godey (from 1978)

John Godey (the pen name used by Morton Freedgood) was a sound writer who excelled at at spinning intense yarns that were incredibly grounded.  The plausibility that he fostered was a tremendous asset, and that realism is certainly one of the highlights of this exciting book.  This is the second (but not the last) "nature runs amok" story to make my list, so my appreciation for that particular sub-genre may factor into my decision to include this one.  Regardless, it's a nifty book that I really enjoy.  Godey mostly worked within the realm of crime fiction, and he puts his knowledge in that arena to great use in The Snake, wherein a curious set of circumstances leads to a deadly black mamba finding a new home in Central Park.  This fearsome predator begins preying on the people of New York and panic ensues in this riveting tale that never becomes so sensational that it defies the author's dedication to realism.  That being said, it's never dull either; the pace is as brisk as the prose is clear.  The characters include a herpetologist who wants to save the snake, a weary cop who has never worked a case quite like this before, and a fearless reporter  who is looking for her next big scoop.  The setting being New York City, a religious sect that sees the snake as a physical incarnation of Satan himself also hits the scene, greatly complicating matters.  Light on terror but heavy on suspense, The Snake is a sound realization of a frightening premise.  It may not be a big hit with those who enjoy audacious fare, but those who appreciate a realistic approach to potent subject matter will greatly appreciate this lean chiller.

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