death instinct

Bentley Little (Phillip Emmons)
Signet
1992

Cathy sat in David’s darkened room, nervous, though she wasn’t quite sure why.

It seems so strange that someone is living in the house across the street.  Cathy was only six when the man who lived there killed his wife and himself.  Cathy heard the screams.  She saw the blood and the bodies.  Now, almost twenty years later, the house is no longer vacant. Someone new has moved in.  And something dreadful is starting to happen in the neighborhood.  The first victim is found skinned alive in his home.  The second, in the middle of the street, her spine snapped.  And the body count is rising.  A killer is on the loose.  And the screams are starting again in the house across the street.  Whatever’s going on inside is a secret no one is supposed to know.  But then again, Cathy has secrets of her own…

At this point in my exploration of Bentley Little’s rather prolific works as an author, I’ve come to expect the unexpected with his deliciously twisted yarns.  He never fails to keep me unnervingly glued to the story with his style of supernatural horror fiction.  Matter of fact, I’ve come to look forward to these little trips of his.

Which is probably why this earlier novel of his – Death Instinct – seemed a bit more, well, mainstream than what I was expecting.  Published originally in 1992, under the pseudonym of Phillip Emmons, and then republished fifteen some odd years later under his real name, Death Instinct is really more a murder mystery thriller than supernatural horror.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, for certain.  Mind you, the dark streak that is Little’s hallmark is there, with the murder descriptions and then the big reveal of who – or what – the killer is, among other plot points.  But for the most part, Death Instinct is a pretty straight-forward thriller.  Well, as straight forward as Bentley Little gets in his fiction.

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