Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

Reading the latest collection by Steve Duffy has brought my memory back to the times when, buying a LP or, later, a CD of one of my favourite singers/bands I was aware that it would have included three or four great songs as well as number of unmemorable fillers added to reach the requested, usual twelve tracks.

Born as a writer of horror or, if you prefer, dark fiction, Duffy is an extremely talented author now branching out towards different subgenres, much to the satisfaction and joy of his many admirers (myself included) . The present collection “The Moment of Panic”, does include the proverbial twelve pieces I mentioned at the beginning, and does features some outstanding tales which, alone, are worth the price of the whole book.
“The A to Z” is one of the darkest, most terrifying stories I ever read in my long experience as a reader and a reviewer of horror fiction, where every page is imbued with sheer evil, disguised under the forms of an attractive, sexy woman whose deceiving appearance conceals a terrible, inhuman malice.

In the extremely creepy, splendid “Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed” a night cruise turns into a zombique nightmare in which drowned bodies appear frightfully alive.

“Vulnavia, or The Mechanical Princess” is another extraordinary, fascinating piece revolving around the ambiguous nature and the dubious fate of the glamorous assistant of the “Abominable Dr Phibes” (see the famous, horrific movie featuring Vincent Price).

The vivid, superb “Secrets of the Beehive” flawlessly blends romance, crime horror and paranormal into an enticing piece of high quality fiction.

In addition to the above highlights, a couple of good ( not great ) stories are worth mentioning “Lives of Saints”, a tale of religious fanaticism, pruderie and family horrors featuring a naughty but pitiable girl and “You Are Now In Beford Falls”, an entertaining comedy about tough businessmen, an unfaithful husband forced to steal money to please his hot lover, and a being not quite of this world.

As for the award winning “The Rag-and-Bone Men”, it didn’t work for me the first time I read it and still doesn’t, but this is the rule of the game…

The remaining stories, as I mentioned before, are just run-of-the-mill fillers, but the book highlights are so superlative that we can easily forgive this minor inconvenience.

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Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi was born and raised in Milan, Italy, where he’s currently living. He became addicted to horror and supernatural fiction (too) many years ago, after accidentally reading a reprint anthology of stories by MR James, JS Le Fanu, HP Lovecraft and A Machen. Since then his collection of horror books has expanded to the point of requiring continuous addictions of new shelves to his library, in order to avoid the collapse of the whole structure. Most likely the only Italian who regularly reads (and reviews) dark fiction in English, his reviews have appeared in a number of genre sites such as The Agony Column, Horrorworld, The Alien Online, Emerald City, The SF site, The Harrow etc.

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