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The Hellfire Club
Peter Straub
Adult Fiction STRAUB

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Continuing his shift away from occult horror toward terrors inspired by the ragged social fabric of American life, Straub (The Throat) turns in another violent yet richly nuanced thriller. As in much of his work (Mystery; Koko), the past impinges on the present through secrets kept, then revealed. Here, the secrets are both familial and literary. Four women in upscale Westerholm, Conn., have disappeared from blood-spattered bedrooms. Meanwhile, Westerholm resident Nora Chancel, who's newly menopausal, broods about a stalking wolf while her husband, publisher Davey Chancel, a decade her junior, obsesses about the novel trilogy (begun in 1939) written by Chancel House's most popular writer, Hugo Driver. When yet another woman disappears, Nora learns that Davey once had an affair with her. Then the woman shows up, only to accuse Nora of kidnapping and torturing her, leading to Nora's arrest. But also at the police station is Dick Dart, scion of an old local family, who is being questioned about the killings. Dart steals a cop's gun, grabs Nora as his hostage and, he believes, potential future accomplice‘and the woman's real agony begins. Dart, a serial killer who has always loved ``cutting things up. Loved it,'' rapes Nora and takes her on a grisly spree of terror. In time, Nora manages to escape, but in a surprising yet, with hindsight, seemingly inevitable turn of events, she again finds herself in mortal danger. Dart is a memorable villain, funny, bold and charming (and as difficult to kill as Rasputin). Nora proves his equal, however, gutsy and clever, and as the two clash, the secrets that Straub intimates early on reveal themselves. These secrets manifest neither easily nor predictably, however, for, as is said of characters in a Driver novel, Straub's own characters are ``colorful and involved, full of danger, heroism and betrayal''‘as is this supple, exciting book. Major ad/promo. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Straub (The Throat, Dutton, 1994) delivers a complicated two-fold thriller. A former nurse in Vietnam, Nora Chancel lives in Westerholm, Connecticut, with her ineffectual husband, Davey. While visiting the local police station to identify the most recent victim of a serial killer, Nora is kidnapped by the accused killer, the satirical villain Dick Dart. Intertwined with the kidnapping plot is an account of the terrifying events that followed the writing of a horror story at the Shorelands writers' colony in 1938. Fighting her own demons from Vietnam, Nora becomes stronger and braver as the story progresses. The climax brings the two stories together, as Dart and Nora visit Shorelands. Horror meets horror in this bizarre, enigmatic tale, which reveals itself in onion-like layers. The Hellfire Club will be popular with Straub's fans as well as readers of horror. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/95.]-Stacie Browne Chandler, Newbury Coll. Lib., Brookline, Mass. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Nora Chancel
In a troubled marriage; wife of a publisher.

Dick Dart
Serial killer

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