There is such a thing as a free book review
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(CNN) -- Everyone likes a good deal -- to get something for nothing. Why else would you be reading this for free on your electronic reading receptacle?
In keeping with that giving spirit, I present to you two-for-the-price-of-one novella reviews.
Consider our first book: "The Folks" by Ray Garton. This Halloween-themed story takes its cues from the what-is-hidden-beneath-the-surface-of-a-small-town theme. The story is set in Mount Crag, with its mountainside Christian college looking eerily down on the village.
"The Folks" is narrated by former student Andy Sawyer. Face-scarring burns, caused by his now deceased mother, have made the townspeople wary of Andy. Mount Crag is not doing much better, having to deal with seasonal, unsolved, gruesome murders that were "probably caused by a bear" -- or so the residents want to believe.
Of course, with all small communities, especially the ones where suspense stories take place, there is the token old-money "Faustian family" nobody sees -- cue thunder and lightning sound effects here.
How does all this tie together? Actually, in spite of some predictability, quite well. We know that Andy will discover the secrets of local mystery family, the Bollingers. But his journey into their haunted house makes for a fun, creepy carnival ride.
Book Two of our twofer special comes from notorious author Edward Lee, known for his hardcore horror writing. "Operator 'B' " is a change of chainsaw from Mr. Lee's usual mayhem: Science fiction rather than horror, the story concerns Col. Jack Wentz, a 25-year Air Force veteran pilot. He is not just any pilot; Wentz is the top gun of testing ultra-secret, multimillion-dollar jets.
Life in the Air Force has taken a toll on his family. He is divorced and is an absentee father to 14-year-old son Pete. On the eve of Wentz's retirement, he is given the chance to pilot the most secret project yet: An OEV -- Operational Extraterrestrial Vehicle. The chance to pilot a flying saucer -- more of a flying wedge in this case -- is an offer he can't refuse.
Even with this incentive, Wentz at first refuses, but then comes the coup de grace: The mission concerns a dilemma that could wipe out all mammalian life on the planet. Thus is born Operator "B."
Lee has written a well-plotted-out novella that keeps the reader turning the pages as quick as a jet's afterburners firing. There is an ample use of military acronyms, but NTC -- never too confusing -- and the science never gets in the way of the plot.
Both of these novellas are published by Cemetery Dance Publications in limited edition hardcover volumes. Due to the collectibility and low print runs, the books are not cheap: "Operator 'B' " is limited to 450 copies and sells for $30, while "The Folks" is limited to 1,000 copies at $40 each. Shopping around on the Web might turn up some better prices. Both books are signed by the authors, with original illustrations in the Lee edition.
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