Samuel M. Key: I'll Be Watching You

It's not really much of a secret that Samuel M. Key is Charles de Lint, well-known fantasy/SF writer. It says it right there on the copyright page. And it's not hard to detect his style, either.

The previous book published under the Key name was From A Whisper To A Scream, which was fully horror. This one is marketed as a "Thriller", and it doesn't have any speculative elements in it at all.

In fact, I'd venture to say it doesn't have a hell of a lot new in it.

This book preaches too much. Don't get me wrong--it preaches about important topics, like abusive husbands, the enshrinement of a false idea of beauty in Western culture, voyeurism, harassment, etc. But it still preaches. And it detracts from the book.

de Lint wrote this with an agenda in mind. He puts a speech(about the enshrinement of beauty, etc.)in the mouth of the main character that doesn't really belong there--in my opinion, unnecessary countersinking, since that whole idea is behind the villain's motive in the first place.

Plot summary--woman flees abusive husband. Voyeuristic killer selects her as a paragon of beauty, and defends her honour and life by killing her husband...and anyone else who so much as looks at her sideways. And then, at the end, tries to kill her when she disillusions him. IMHO, in this is found the theme a lot more strongly than the bald statement of it. de Lint could have put that in an Author's Afterword, rather than in the mouth of a character where it didn't belong.

And while these issues, as I said, may be important, they're handled clumsily. The comparison that came to mind from time to time was Piers Anthony's Firefly, and although it was a comparison that made the Key book look a lot better, that's damning with very faint praise. This book, at least, didn't descend into sheer silliness.

So if you have an interest in the topics on de Lint's agendas, maybe read this book. Or find some nonfiction on the same topic. If you want a good thriller, be prepared to grit your teeth a few times.

%A Key, Samuel M. [Charles de Lint]
%T I'll Be Watching You
%I Berkley Jove
%C New York
%D January 1994
%G ISBN 0-515-11277-1
%P 296 pp.
%O Paperback, US$4.99, Can$5.99

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com