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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Death Trance

By Graham Masterton
Tom Doherty Associates, 408 pp, 1986

This is the first Graham Masterton book I've read and I now realize I shouldn't have waited so long.

This is a great book - well-written, endearing and entertaining characters, vivid action scenes and a great plot. The only hitch is the cop-out of an ending, which I don't want to spoil for you. Suffice to say that it's predictable and nonsensical at the same time.

But it doesn't ruin the book. Randolph Clare is president of a large Tennessee cotton seed company. He has some serious competition in the form of a few companies that have joined together as a cartel, and the CEOs of these outfits don't like Randolph's lower prices and superior service.

Early in the book, and I'm giving nothing away because it's in the summary on the back cover, Randolph's wife and three children are brutally murdered. It's an especially riveting scene, maybe the best in the book.

Stricken by grief, Randolph learns from a doctor that some special people in Indonesia can enter death trances and talk with the dead. But there are dangers, mainly soul-hunting servants of the death goddess Rangda called leyaks, who eat the spirits of the dead and sometimes bring them back alive for Rangda to consume.

Naturally, Randolph becomes obsessed with this death trance idea, and he and the doctor and his secretary fly to Indonesia to track down one of the few people in the world who can do death trances. They are pursued by the same men who killed his family, and much death and carnage and destruction ensue.

It's a fun read and I plan to read more Masterton.

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