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Book Review

Book Cover

Rules of Duel


Authors: Graham Masterton and William S Burrows
Telos Publishing
RRP: £9.99, US $19.95, Cdn $19.95
ISBN: 978 1 84583 054 0
Available 30 September 2010

Depressed reporter Tom Crisp, sometimes known as A14, finds himself embroiled in a web of intrigue as he tries to make sense of his incarceration at Tin Type. Hall. 'Just telling you' his story unravels in a series of 'silver film' as he finds himself in a world full of double-agents such as the psychotic Motherwell the Everlasting Executioner, John Remorse, the Serjeant of Time Film and Samuel Baptist HM Inspector of Brothels. In a world where sexually charged sofas ejaculate black horse hair and the Hypocritic Oath is blamed for failed medical procedures, Crisp stands helplessly by as Jack Beauregard, the Eater of Cities, is hunted down. It could all be the fault of the Mysterious Babies...but then maybe you can feel the 'Cold Sun'...

Yes, I know; you don't have to say a word. I don't know what on earth the above paragraph is about either. In all the hundreds of reviews I've written for this site, I've only copied the marketing description, or in this case the book jacket synopsis, about three or four times - preferring to interpret the relevant story in my own way. The reason that the prose isn't straightforwardly written in the past tense or in the first or third person, is due to a writing technique, devised by William S. Burroughs, called Intersection writing.

Graham Masterton wrote this tale in the last six years leading up to 1970, when he was friends with Burroughs. It was obviously heavily influenced by the latter's style. The idea was to be unconventional and make the reader work for the story. But there is working and there is deciphering. The novel has not seen the light of day since that time and therefore, as Burroughs died in 1997, this until recently undiscovered work marks a fitting tribute to the man.

Masterton is, in my opinion, the best horror author around. His talent for bringing the supernatural in to a contemporary setting is unparalleled. However, this is not horror, nor is it what we've come to love in any genre from him. The story is confusing and meanders, jumping back at frequent intervals, so that you don't know where you are or who anybody is. It's easy to praise something different, but reading should always be a pleasant experience. I enjoyed the reprint of Masterton's early horror novel, The Djinn, much more.

For anyone who does want to give this a go it's beautifully presented by the publisher Telos, with good quality paper and professional and sturdy cover, incorporating inside flaps - like a hardback - which can be used as bookmark.


Ty Power

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