Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review of Ghoul by Michael Slade

Michael Slade is the pen name of Jay Clarke, Lee Clarke, and John Banks. John and Jay were both trial lawyers in Vancouver and that experience shows in their novels.
The story takes place in Vancouver, London, and Rhode Island. It's mostly set in the mid 80's but there are some flashbacks. The story follows a Canadian Mountie Zinc Chandler and Chief Detective Hilary Rand of Scotland Yard in their search for answers concerning brutal murders in both Vancouver and London. The first connection made between the 2 locations in a death metal band called Ghoul. The story is briefly told through the mind of some of the band members. It also tells the story from the perspective of the 3 murders, The Vampire Killer, Jack the Bomber, and the Sewer Killer. All of murder in twisted ways. The Vampire Killer drains the blood of his victims through a wound in their neck then cuts out the heart. The Sewer Killer mutilates his victims much in the style of Jack the Ripper. Jack the Bomber plants (you guessed it) bombs at locations frequented by homosexuals. Keep in mind this novel is set in the mid-80s, at the height of the AIDS scare. People did not understand how it could be transmitted and thought it was confined to the gay community.

When I started to read this, I was expecting to get a full on horror novel. But as it turns out Ghoul is part horror, part crime drama. The horror aspects come out in the careful description of the brutal killings. There several classic horror elements incorporated into the story such as the character of the ghoul (aka the sewer killer) which is described in the same way as the ghoul from old horror movies. A tall, pale-skinned madman with cold eyes who wanders the streets of London in search of unsuspecting victims. The authors also use numerous references from old horror movies in their novel.

The story definitely held my attention. The characters are interesting and likable. It can feel a bit disjointed at times because it jumps around to different locations and characters. I suspect this is do to the fact that the book has 3 authors. It does mention the date and location at the beginning of each section, so that helps. By the middle of the book, everything starts coming together. You find out what one set of characters in one location has to do with another set in another location. All in all, it was a good novel. It has a few shocks, cringe inducing imagery, and a bit of the unexpected thrown in for good measure. By the end all the questions are answered and the book contains no plot holes that I noticed. It's a great book if you like horror or crime dramas about the psychology of a killer.

Unfortunately Ghoul is no longer in print but you can purchase it used on Amazon or find it at your local library. If your interested in purchasing other books by Michael Slade, you can find a list on Amazon.


  1. This sounds like an interesting book. I like horror and crime dramas so I am going to look for a copy. I'm following you on gfc and facebook too. Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Interesting...but the picture totally freaks me out! Following you via GFC


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