Monday, April 12, 2010

Six Toes

B.E. Schafer
Cordon Publications (2009)
ISBN 9780982208380  (Amazon)
Reviewed by Ron Standerfer for Reader Views (03/10)

It's another ho-hum day in the small Midwest town of Solitude.  The list of missing people continues to grow and now includes the town's only "lady of pleasure," plus a group of Japanese businessmen in town to inspect an old factory; a dog is found in a back alley horribly mutilated and apparently eaten by a pack of vicious animals; and residents are beginning to pack up and leave with fear in their eyes, muttering that "those people at Lost Island" were the cause of all this.  Oh, and let us not forget the town's latest arrivals: two men horribly scarred and mutilated; one a former resident who is returning to practice medicine; and the other, a hairy, one-eyed man who prefers to skulk and slither around in the night and whose hands strongly resemble a pair of sharpened claws.

How do all these things fit together?  The clue, of course, is Lost Island, a former military facility that was engaged in a super secret research project involving genetics and gene splicing until it was destroyed by a fire eight years before.  There were two researchers on duty when the fire broke out and they were presumed dead, along with a population of cats and other research animals.  Oddly enough, the list of research subjects also included five sub-teen children who mysteriously disappeared just before the fire.  As it turns out, the five children, now teenagers are living in Solitude, facing excruciating mental and physical challenges that more than likely can be attributed to their experience at Lost Island---a time in their lives they cannot remember.   As you probably already guess, the town of Solitude's latest arrivals are the two researchers presumed to be lost in the fire.  When it is revealed that the two men are mortal enemies, that's when the pace of the story picks up; and when it is apparent that the one-eyed man displays distinctly animal characteristics and quite possibly is not from this world, that's when the plot thickens.

"Six Toes" is B.E. Schafer's first novel and in it he spins a fine yarn that moves along at a fast pace and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat.  In fact, the way he seamlessly combined the two genres of horror and science fiction into one story line reminds me of some of Stephen King's early works---and that's not a bad place to start.  Book II of Six Toes, "The Legacy" is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2010.

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