Jo stared at Sarah uncomprehendingly. She was not sure whether to believe her or not. It sounded like a story that Sarah was making up as she went along. “Then how come—” Sarah smiled then.
Oh, I think what we have here is a first - a pulp slasher story that I actually enjoyed!
This is not one of McDowell's best: there were large parts that I found repetitive but I know that they were necessary to show the extent to which the amulet's evil has spread throughout the small town of Pine Cone. Or has it? Has the evil always been there? Was the amulet really the source of the evil or was the source closer to home?
Parts of this story very really boring, which is why I'm docking it a couple of stars in my rating, but I love what McDowell was trying to do with the story: we have a 70s horror novel that starts with a young man being trained for combat in Vietnam being horribly injured during a training exercise near his home town in Alabama, whose main industry is a rifle factory, producing the very same rifle that caused the injury. What follows is a series of killings that seem to start with the man who denied the young man a safe job and exemption from military service, and then the killing just doesn't stop.
There are lots of questions in this but the main ones: are any of the inhabitants of really Pine Cone innocent? And where does evil grow from?
I liked this, but it just doesn't measure up to the other books I have read by the author.
Ok, I'm no longer interested in what happens to the townspeople, but I am on tenterhooks to find out how this ends for Sarah and her friend Becca, who are trying to track down the amulet and stop the killings.
Also, I hope Sarah's MIL will get her comeuppance.
Body Count: 16
Body count of deaths before the story sets in: 2+
The plot is becoming a little repetitive now. Still good, but not as gripping as at the start.
By the way, McDowell also plays with the reader in this one - one of the main characters keeps changing the story about how her husband died. It is quite funny.
Body Count: 11
With respect to Bingo categories, this would qualify for:
Southern Gothic, Slasher, Terror in a Small Town, Relics & Curiosities, Murder Most Foul, Amateur Sleuth, Genre: Horror, Classic Horror.