A ghost story forces a man to confront the darkest secret of his past
Christmas is lonely for a man with no family, and Mike North is grateful when his boss invites him to spend the holiday at his cabin upstate. But as a blizzard descends and conversation dries up, Mike regrets leaving New York City. Only the arrival of Susannah, his boss’s daughter, saves him from going mad with boredom. She is quick-witted and beautiful, a perfect antidote to snow-bound tedium, and he begins to fall in love. For Christmas night entertainment, Mike invents a ghost story. It goes all right until Susannah starts to scream.
Something in his half-baked melodrama about a Chicago serial killer haunted by a man with a scarred face has touched a nerve. Unknowingly, Mike described a scene that matches Susannah’s nightmares. Soon, what had been a dream begins to intrude into reality. To understand her terror, Mike digs into his own memory, hoping to unearth the secret that gave birth to the scarred man.
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THE SCARRED MAN
I picked up this book because a friend recommended it as having the most perfect story opening. Mike is invited to his boss's idyllic Christmas party at his home away from the big city. He plummets into a romance with the boss's daughter, Susannah. Everything is better than he could have imagined until the night everyone shares stories to pass the time. Mike tells one about a man with a terrible facial scar, who is hunting a victim in some made-up town, and Susannah, the woman Mike most hopes to impress, freaks as if he has viciously offended her. She leaves the next morning without explanation or apology. It was just a ghost story. Why did she react this way? Since he can't stop thinking about her, he drives to her college dorm to try to make up to her, and when he arrives on campus, his headlights pass over a man crossing the road--a man with a terribly scarred face. Was Mike's story actually a work of his imagination? Did he read it somewhere and forget it was true? But even if it is true, what does it have to do with Susannah? Many details refuse to add up until Mike can hunt them all down, sort fact from fiction, and determine whom he can trust. This is a fun read, more of a mystery than a thriller. And it isn't a ghost story, though it may feel like one in spots.
"The Scarred Man" is a great book which was written under a pen name by Andrew Klavan, author of "Don't Say a Word", "True Crime", and "The Animal Hour." Like "The Animal Hour", this is a surprising creepy book that almost crosses genres from mystery to horror.