The Black Train
by Edward Lee
I don't know much about the writer Edward Lee (this is the first book I've read of his, but I believe that he's considered to be one of the grandfathers of the extreme horror genre. In the Black Train he's definitely more graphic than say Stephen King in describing the sex, of which there is a lot, and the violence. Fortunately, he doesn't allow it to overshadow what in the beginning is an interesting story.
The Black Train is basically a "haunted hotel" story similar to King's The Shining. It follows a writer, Collier, who checks into an old hotel which begins to have a strange affect on him. (Wait a second that is The Shining!) Suddenly, he sees ghosts, is super horny and dreams of the hotel's violent past. He becomes fascinated with the hotel and dives headlong into its perverted and horrific history while he tries to stave off its evil influence. This basically creates two stories: Collier's story and the hotel's story.
Collier's story is filled with odd but fascinating characters and a setting Lee makes come to life in the reader's mind. It's too bad it's also filled with details (Collier's divorce, midlife crisis and love life) that are routine and a drag on the book as a whole.
The hotel's story is superior and builds a palpable dread and a mystery that kept me interested and reading. Where did the evil come from? Who was behind it? Why?
Unfortunately what should have been a dynamic conclusion runs afoul of the love story Lee has shoehorned into the last part of the novel. Instead of a huge explosion of demons, devils and gore we're stuck with reading about how Collier can't wait to kiss his new girlfriend.
Oh, and why call this book The Black Train when the train has little to do with the story?