The Fan and The Calling
The Fan dedication: To Julia and Edward
The Calling dedication: For Mickie
dedication: To Julia and Edward
dedication: For Mickie
The blurb on the back:
There was a moment when it seemed as though Bob Randall was going to become a really big name in terror fiction - round about the time of these two books, in fact - but then he wandered off into writing plays, I believe, and it never quite happened. Which is a shame because both of these are really nice little potboilers, with more creativity than a shed-load of the other stuff that was around back then.
The Fan was, as far as I know, his first book, and unexpectedly revived the tradition of the epistolary novel that had been so big back in the 18th century. Well, the sleeve notes tell the story pretty accurately, but it's worth adding that the letters from the stalker are really very fine indeed, a sketched but convinced portrait of a psychotic mind at work. Inevitably the format becomes too restrictive as we approach the climax and we need things to move a bit faster than the postal service will allow, but it's still a neat little tale.
The Calling came out in 1981, the same year as a movie of the The Fan (which wasn't up to much, but did star Lauren Bacall), and it's even better. The central character is an illustrator of modern gothic stories in women's magazines, and there's something of the old school shocker about the story of her persecution at the hands of an unknown tormentor, but given a lovely twist by the use of the telephone as an instrument of menace. This one didn't get filmed, which seems a tad unfair, given that the likes of Eyes of Laura Mars could command big budgets.
Both seem a bit scarce nowadays, but they're well worth finding. And I expect the other two novels by Mr Randall of which I've heard - The Next and The Last Man on the List - would be as well, but I haven't read them so I can't be sure.
Eyes of Laura Mars