Wow, was this bad! The back of the book makes Ramsey Campbell (whom I’ve never even heard of) sound like some sort of British Stephen King. Maybe I just caught him on a bad day, but I thought Campbell’s writing was atrocious. That’s a double shame, really, because this could have been one hell of a story.
The Grin in the Dark focuses on Simon Lester, a rather washed up film critic who has suddenly been given a miraculous opportunity to publish his film school thesis as a proper book, assuming he can edit it enough to make it a different piece of writing. He chooses to research a silent film actor named Tubby Thackery, whose films and stage performances were rumored to make people go insane. As he researches Tubby, Simon begins to lose his own grip on reality.
It could have been a great story. Lester encounters obstacle after obstacle in his attempts to research Tubby: newspapers that suddenly don’t exist, microfiche catching fire, weird issues with his bank account, people not believing who he is. Everything adds up to this really creepy feeling like someone is out to get Simon, compounded by this bizarre internet troll named Smilememe. It even had a pretty decent twist at the end (which is why I rated it a 2 instead of a 1). The writing was just awful though–what should have been subtle came across as heavy-handed (this coming from a Stephen King fan). I felt like Campbell was standing behind me going, “You get it? You get it?” the whole damn time.
Has anyone read anything else by this guy? Did I just happen to pick up his only stinker?