Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sharp Practice by John Farris (1974) - a southern gothic psychopathic maniac suspense thriller

1988 printing, uncredited artwork, small wonder
John Farris is the author of many horror novels, the most famous being When Michael Calls (1967) and The Fury (1976), both of which were made into movies. Sharp Practice starts out in England where there is a ripper-like psycho about killing young women with large knives. The main characters are erudite upper crust academics who may or may not be targeted by said psycho. There are many twists and turns in this very entertaining suspense thriller, and as the action moves from Oxford to a college in Tennessee things seem calm for awhile...

Farris is expert at having a seemingly placid scene suddenly erupt into shocking violence. He also writes well drawn three-dimensional characters, whose actions are always in keeping with their character. The plot gets pretty thick but never confusing. It's a fast read, overall a recommendable thriller from the 70s, especially for fans of John Farris.

A note on the cover art: I haven't been able to find a good shot of the 1974 edition of this book. No doubt it is better than the one above. In the 1980s they started overusing that embossed foil stamping, especially rampant in horror fiction, and the artwork became secondary.

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