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Community by Graham Masterton
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Severn House Digital Kindle Edition  ISBN/ITEM#: B00DZJZTJK
Date: 01 September 2013

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Michael Spencer, a soil scientist, and his fiancée, Tasha Kerwin, are driving from Seattle to San Francisco. Near Mount Shasta, a pick-up truck forces their Torrent to crash. Michael wakes up at the isolated, snowbound Trinity-Shasta Clinic, suffering a ruptured disc in his spine and post-traumatic amnesia.

The staff insists that he is Gregory John Merrick, a marine engineer. Strangers begin masquerading as his sister and mom. Part of Michael's rehabilitation program involves him moving in with a famous writer, Isobel Weston, and serving as her companion.

At night, he awakes to see people standing in the snow covered lawn, staring at him. Upon rushing outside to confront them, he finds nothing, not even their footprints in the snow. Fearing he is going insane, Michael tries to leave, but soon learns that no one ever escapes from the bizarre community of Trinity, California.

Graham Masterton's genuinely creepy Community gave me the type of chills I got when watching episodes of The Twilight Zone. The hero in this novel is Michael Spencer and the reader knows he is perfectly sane. Unfortunately, Michael doesn't know.

Meanwhile, the staff tries to convince him he is Gregory Merrick. This type of scenario has played out in many other novels. The foremost in my mind is Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby. At the Bramford, Rosemary Woodhouse is trapped by her neighbors who belong to a coven of witches; they have diabolical plans for her and her baby. Gary Bradner's The Howling involves a young couple, Roy and Karyn Beatty, who vacation in the small rural town of Drago, California. The townspeople, Karyn soon learns, are werewolves. Will she be able to escape without becoming one of them?

Community is rich with spooky atmosphere. Lying in the shadows of Mount Shasta, the town of Trinity is experiencing winter at its worst. The temperature is freezing and it is always snowing. No one ever leaves their small homes, which are built tightly around the Trinity-Shasta Clinic and the Trinity Community Center, which is the only source of entertainment in this strange place. There are no markets, theaters, churches, schools, or gyms. Snow-covered cars remain parked in their driveways. The community appears to be dead. It is as though a plague has decimated the inhabitants and survivors are sheltering in their homes. The people themselves are cold, emotionally and physically. Isobel's flesh is cold whenever Michael touches her.

Initially, I thought Community was suitable for all ages. However, when Michael moves into Isobel's cottage, I quickly changed my mind. The scenes of oral sex were quite graphic. I read words I hadn't seen since my sex education class in high school. The oral sex was as graphic as any I had read in a Harold Robbins novel. In fact, it was perverse descriptions of oral sex that made me put down his raunchy novel Descent from Xanadu and never pick it up again. In fact, I stopped reading his novels. Fortunately, the sex scenes in Community were pertinent to the plot. Michael discovers how thoroughly cold Isobel’s body truly is, inside and outside.

If one ignores the plot implausibilities that often come with novels of this genre, Graham Masterton's Community is bound to be an enjoyable read. Fans of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery television series will be highly interested in this one.

It is a simple, fast-paced novel that only took me a few days to read on my Apple iPhone 4's Kindle app. Once I began reading it, I couldn't stop. Community made me question my perception of reality. Memories can easily be stolen or erased. That is why it is so important that we live in the present and enjoy the moment. Meanwhile, I'll be praying that I never find myself living in a community like Trinity. I would rather be dead.

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