Burnt Offerings is a classic haunted house horror by Robert Marasco. I picked up Parlor Games due to the quality of my previous read.
The man had a way with suspense. He brought it in waves throughout both of these novels, letting the reader fall, and fall again, and again into settled senses before crashing in with more havoc and terror.
Parlor Games takes place in Manhattan, a high society brother and sister have a strangely, too tightly knit relationship. The brother is accused of murder, months in the past, by a young woman’s mother. This is where the mysteries, big and small, really begin. Which is what this book really is, a mystery thriller.
Fresh out the psychiatric ward a crazy mother fucker named Joanne from her home in the country is back to stir up old accusations. Mama bear faces off against would be son-in-law, just as he’s starting to get hot and serious with a new woman.
From there, the assumptions became apparent, almost too apparent, as if to mislead or just plainly set an all too easy tone of dread. Easy or not, the dread is there, coasting alongside sexual deviance and glimmers of hope for heroes in the bushes.
This story had its faults, redundancy being one; say, let’s have a drink and hash this out – say let’s have a drink and – say let’s have a drink – say let's have… Also, the biggest twist was left mostly without justification, as if the author saw the far side of the bridge in the horizon and decided that he’d skip rather than step all the way across. Those points aside, this book is entertaining and well written. Quality most of the way 'round.
And really, sometimes it’s nice to pick up something simple and free of the common trends of modern thrillers. Had me entertained for a handful of hours.