book cover of Toplin
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Publisher's Weekly
McDowell is a well known author of occult tales (The Amulet, The Elementals) who now offers an ambitious novel of psychological horror. The unnamed narrator relates his twisted view of life so transparently that we can see through his demented thoughts to the reality beneath. He thinks that everything happening in his decaying urban neighborhood holds a personal message for him and when he decides his destiny is to kill a hideously ugly woman, it is clear that only he sees any deformity. In the details of his madness (an obsession with numbers, a fascination with and repugnance for the flesh, his pathetic fallacy, etc.), the book vaguely recalls such great works of monomania and solipsism as Samuel Beckett's Three Novels, but any other comparison is invidious. Like the surrealist illustrations that objectify the narrator's visions, this novel is occasionally distasteful but mostly unmoving.

Library Journal
A nameless, paranoid narrator, compelled by mysterious warnings and sourceless messages, sets out to kill a deformed waitress whom he feels wants to die. With every revelation of the narrator's bizarre lifestyle and unusual acquaintances, the reader is less sure of what can be believed, until the line between actuality and fantasy disappears completely. McDowell has crafted an explicit and unusual nightmarish vision of contemporary urban life that embraces the range of social and sexual maladjustment. The narrator's calm, understated recitation of the unsavory events only heightens the horror; the fine illustrations match the surrealistic mood perfectly. An offbeat, puzzling, and disturbing work that should interest even the most jaded fans of horror fiction. Eric W. Johnson, Univ. of Bridgeport Lib., Ct.

Genre: Mystery

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