Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Written by Graham Masterton
Published by Leisure Books
In the world of horror, revenge is a big issue. Whether that revenge is for something as small as snagging a parking place or, let’s say, displacing an entire nation and destroying a whole culture, horror is filled with lots of angry folks. Enter Misquimacus, a Native-American medicine man with a grudge that’s been growing since the day he died. That’s a whole lot of hatred, and it’s the premise for Blind Panic, Masterton’s fifth book in his Manitou series.
The book begins with several seemingly unrelated groups of people all being struck suddenly blind. Pile-ups on the freeways are instant, as are plane crashes and other forms of chaos. Even the President of the United States isn’t immune, as he’s blinded just hours before an important meeting with the President of Russia. The cause of the strange blindness is a mysterious Native American who just appears all over the country. It falls to Masterton’s heroes, Harry Erskine and Amelia Carusoe, along with a stunt-man, a reporter, a truck-driver, a Santaria priestess, and a group of IT nerds, to save not only themselves, but the rest of the nation.
Masterton is at the top of his game in this book, creating tense situations that reflect just how desperate the situation is. By focusing on groups of characters from across a large area, he gives the reader a sense of how epic the problem is. From the initial shock to the rapid decay into bedlam and chaos, he brings the world into sharp focus and shows the reader how desperate a nation can become. The plot is tight and clever and the characters are interesting enough that readers want them to survive.
One of the book’s greatest strengths comes from Masterton’s use of Native American culture and magic. His use of actual folklore and history blends well with his own creative license, to the point that it is difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends. It is also through this plot device that he does the seemingly impossible: He makes the villain a twisted, but sympathetic character.
Blind Panic only suffers in one area: the ending. Masterton spends the whole book building the crisis of the country to a fever pitch, but when the ending comes, it seems to be almost too easy, too quick.
In all, Blind Panic is a worthy part of the Manitou series. Fraught with tension, well written and crafted, and with moments that make the reader squirm, it does not disappoint.
4 out of 5
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