Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Dave Zeltserman's many novels include Monster: A novel of Frankenstein. His short mystery fiction has won the Shamus, Derringer and Ellery Queen's Readers Choice awards. His crime thrillers, Small Crimes and Pariah, both made the Washington Post's best books of the year list in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and Small Crimes was selected by NPR as one of the 5 best crime and mystery novels of 2008.

His horror novel, The Caretaker of Lorne Field, was shortlisted by the American Library Association for best horror novel of 2010 and was also a Black Quill nominee for best dark genre book of the year.

Zeltserman applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Husk, and reported the following:
In my new horror novel Husk, Charlie Husk is from a cannibal clan hidden deep in the backwoods of New Hampshire. When the novel starts, he has traveled to our world to collect stragglers to bring back to the clan. He picks out his first victim for this trip—a woman who has been abandoned by her jerk boyfriend at a Massachusetts Turnpike rest stop. When he offers to rescue her, instead of dumping her in a canvas sack and throwing her into the back of his van, he finds himself driving her back to her apartment in NY. He can’t help it. He has feelings for her—the first time he has ever felt anything for any of them. And he can tell the feelings are being reciprocated.

By page 69, Charlie has abandoned the clan and has decided to live as one of us in our world as long as he has a chance of being with Jill, and on the opening paragraph of that page he describes going out to dinner with Jill and being packed in among what had previously been his prey:
The restaurant Jill took me to was much smaller than the one we’d eaten at the other night. I counted only eight tables and there was little space separating them, leaving me and Jill crowded among them. Both tables next to ours were occupied, so I had other eaters sitting on both sides of me, leaving less than a foot between us, even though they were both thinner than many of them I’d seen. (Thin enough that I might not have stopped to pick them up if I was still collecting them for the clan.) While their scent was ever-present and I could feel a moist heat from them, having them so close no longer caused me any undue anxiousness. I was getting used to having so many of them around me. Jill was also well aware of the other eaters’ close proximity, and it caused her voice to be more guarded as she thought of additional questions to ask me. Her first one was whether I’d really been building houses as I had told her.
Husk passes the Page 69 Test as the page is highly representative of the creepiness that permeates the book as Charlie desperately tries to ignore his true nature so he can live with Jill, while also ignoring how difficult it can be to abandon the clan.
Learn more about the book and author at Dave Zeltserman's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue