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Old Flames Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jun 2008

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Dorchester Publishing (1 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843959991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843959994
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 10.5 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 852,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk. He is also a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you decide for yourself. His short story The Box won a 1994 Bram Stoker Award from the HWA and he has written ten novels, including The Girl Next Door, Off Season, and Stranglehold. His stories are collected in The Exit At Toledo Blade Boulevard and Broken on the Wheel of Sex. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By vi on 18 Oct. 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my first Jack Ketchum book. I tried this author because he was well recommended for his brutal horror stories and in this aspect I wasn't disappointed. The two novellas here are indeed nasty, dark and gloriously wretched and twisted.
The first 'Old Flames' is the story of Dora,a woman who sets her sights on making an old boyfriend her own once again and she doesn't intend to let the fact that the guy has a family stand in her way. Dora is capable of anything and is clearly sick in the head, with the same demented thought process of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. This story rattles along at a blistering pace with short chapters that cut between points-of-view and keeps the reader engrossed throughout which then builds to a devastating conclusion.
The second story is called 'Right to Life'. This is also a story from the point of view of a woman, but unlike the proceeding tale, here the woman, Sara,is the victim of violence and not the perpetrator. Kidnapped on her way to a clinic she finds herself subjected to extreme mental, emotional and physical torture in order to produce a child for her vicious captors. To say the least this is an uncomfortable tale to read, ghastly things happen but of course this is a horror story and anything else would be disappointing. But still, this is a warning for explicit content albeit content that delivers satisfying shocks.
Both stories are extremely well written, making all the characters believable, if not likable then at least understandable. This book is very entertaining and also a pretty quick read. I will be getting more works from this author. Enjoy. Thank you.
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By Anne.b on 18 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book reminded me of the movie fatal attraction, was good story but you can expect the ending, but worth a read, this author is very good, so far read all his books,,,
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By Geoffsm on 3 Feb. 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I have a number of Jack Ketchum books and this one has been added to my collection - will read it when I get time.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edna Ming on 18 Oct. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a good read but it is, in my opinion, far too similar in story to Thomas Tessier's excellent novel Rapture.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 29 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A pair of horror novellas 17 Jun. 2008
By mrliteral - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many horror novels have their own bits of oddness, but Jack Ketchum's Old Flames has an oddity that is pretty rare. Although it is seeming a book featuring the story Old Flames with a "bonus novella" called Right to Life, it is actually the latter story that is the longer of the two. It's almost like eating a dinner in which the dessert is more important than the entrée. I suppose there's a good reason - probably because Old Flames is a new story and Right to Life is a reprint - but it still is a little strange. Weirdness of structure aside, however, this is still a good book.

Both stories are tales of non-supernatural horror. Old Flames is the story of Dora, a fortyish woman who's love life is going nowhere, leading her to track down her high school lover and meet up with him in a "chance" encounter. He's now happily married, but Dora's a woman who never backs down from a challenge, even if she needs to do criminal acts to achieve her goals.

Right to Life focuses on a different woman, Sara, who finds herself accidentally pregnant with her married lover's child. She opts for an abortion but is kidnapped outside the clinic by a sadistic couple who will subject her to increasing cruel physical and psychological torture. Their ultimate objective, however, is to take her child.

It is a wise choice on Ketchum's part not to make either of these stories truly novel length. Old Flames is an intense read, but there's not enough plot or character for a long book. Right to Life is even more intense - it is akin to that new horror film category known as torture-porn - which makes for compelling reading but also makes the reader want the experience to end. I haven't read much Ketchum beyond this book, but if this is representative of his work, he is a pretty good horror writer who knows how to mix suspense and terror very well.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Two for one 7 Jun. 2008
By Ravenskya - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In reviewing this book let me tell you first of all that it is actually two novellas, I did not know that when I acquired it so I was a bit shocked when the first one ended and half the book was still left. The book is well written, as are all of Ketchum's novels, however I didn't feel that this was one of his better novels. It will always be hard to top "The Girl Next Door" but I felt myself very distanced from this book.

The first and title story is "Old Flames" where Dora who has been through a number of abusive relationships, seeks out an ex-boyfriend from high school. Unfortunately he is happily married with children... but Dora can't let that stand in her way. I had a difficult time with this story, not because it wasn't believable, but mainly because it was told from Dora's point of view and she was such a toon that as a reader I couldn't connect with her.

The second novella is "Right To Life" about a woman on the way to an abortion clinic who is kidnapped by people who want the baby... and more. The main character in this is Sara, a strong 40-something who is pregnant by her lover (of course he is married.) The people who kidnap her are complete toons... unfortunately this is not new... it is basically a rehash of "Girl Next Door" with a pregnant woman substituted in for the little girl.

After now having read several of Ketchum's novels it has dawned on me that he seems to think that adultery is a regular occurrence (almost as common as breathing), and should be punished and by terrible means, generally torture and/or the death of your family and loved ones. As I said before, this is VERY well written, the problem is that if you have read most of his other works, this doesn't feel at all new. And the angle that it is written from is a hard one to really dig your mind into. If you have read everything else he's written the feel free to get your Ketchum Buzz on, but just remember it's not one of his best.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
two well written exciting psychological horror thrillers 1 Jun. 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Old Flames". In Manhattan Owen dumps his lover Dora Welles by message. She confronts him and the married with children Owen admits he found someone else to be his lover. Dora destroys some of his prized possessions like a seventeenth century vase. At a bar she meets Estha from her high school class of twenty-five years ago. Estha says she hired a private detective who found her teen boyfriend Ralphie. Dora decides to do like wise she hires Flame Finders Joseph Ledo who quickly locates Jim Welbourne, an attorney with a wife and kids living in California. Dora goes west to see if he is the one. If not she will assume her significant other was her late cat Lawrence; but if yes his family will be collateral damage.

"Right to Life". In1998 Manhattan married with a son Greg Glover is worried about his pregnant lover Sara Foster as he takes her for an abortion. He knows she lost a child in a lake accident that also ended her marriage. He drops her off near the clinic while he goes to park the car. When he arrives at the clinic after dodging the picket line, he asks for Sara, but she has not checked in. He franticly looks for her and obtains help from the cops, but Sara is nowhere. Panicked Greg knows this is not like Sara; what he does not know is Sara is wakening up in a "prison" cell in New Jersey having been abducted by the picketers.

These are two well written exciting psychological horror thrillers that put twists on seemingly everyday people. Readers will appreciate Jack Ketchum's shockers that take adverse relationships plausibly further than one would expect.

Harriet Klausner
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Compelling character studies 31 May 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Old Flames contains two novellas, the title piece, and a reprinting of Ketchum's harrowing "Right to Life." Both feature strong women in central roles, but that's where the similarities end, as each piece veers off in its own unique direction.

Ketchum's heroines are a study in contrasts. Both are tough, and not to be trifled with, but each expresses that toughness in radically different ways. Dora, the focus of the novella "Old Flames," is by the far the most fearsome of the two, a veritable force of nature, a woman you don't want as an enemy--Dora knows what she wants and does whatever she needs to do to get it. Although her aggressive nature has served her well over the years, it leads her astray in "Old Flames," as she discovers that what she desperately wants is to hook up with a former lover. There's only one problem--he's happily married. Deciding that her goal is worth any cost, Dora embarks on a dark path, one which leads to deception and murder.

Sara, the protagonist of the grueling second piece, displays a quieter strength, brought out by the trauma of being kidnapped as she is about to visit an abortion clinic. Imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental abuse, she endures, holding on by the slightest of threads as her captors seek to break her will, and, ultimately, take her baby for their own. Although she finds herself in an intolerable, oppressive environment, she never loses her dignity, and never gives up on herself. She marshals her anger and strength, waiting for one decisive, explosive moment to seek her freedom, surprising readers only a little more than she surprises herself.

In both novellas, Ketchum continues his tradition of focusing on people's reactions to extreme situations, and of building to violent crescendos. In "Old Flames," Dora initiates the action, and mesmerized readers can only watch as she and the supporting cast struggle to deal with the fallout. "Right to Life" provides a compelling, character study of a woman in jeopardy, leaving readers to ponder how they would cope in a similar situation. The first a tragedy, the second more uplifting, each novella provides ample evidence of precisely why Ketchum's work is so highly prized by his peers and fans.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Worth buying just for Right to Life 26 Dec. 2010
By Melissa Helwig - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Who's the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum." - Stephen King

Stephen King is right. Jack Ketchum is probably the scariest guy in America. He's definitely one of my favourite writers and when Old Flames was released, I rushed out to get it. I was disappointed when I realized it wasn't a full-length novel, just a book comprised of two novellas. But, as usual, Ketchum delivers.

Both novellas feature strong female characters. One as an antagonist and one as a protagonist. Old Flames is about a recently dumped woman, Dora, who uses a service called Flame Finders to find her high school sweetheart. To her dismay, he is married and has children. But that won't stop Dora from staking her claim. It's Fatal Attraction for the 00's. With so many people now looking up old flames and friends via Facebook and MySpace readers can easily relate.

This novella moves quickly and had me frantically flipping the pages. I couldn't wait to see what crazy Dora would do next. The writing is superb, as it always is with Ketchum. I wish it was longer so the characters were more fleshed out. They're fleshed out enough for a 130 page novella, but I think it would've been interesting to have more back story on Dora, and why she is such a psycho. I also thought the ending was confusing. I had to re-read the last chapters a couple times until I understood what happened. But I still enjoyed it.

Old Flames is a pretty good novella, but I think it would have made an amazing novel.

The second novella, Right to Life, has previously been released on its own. I was more excited for this one than the title story because I had been wanting to read it for awhile. But people who have already read Right to Life may feel ripped off buying a book for a 130 page novella.

Right to Life is about a pregnant woman, Sara, who is kidnapped outside of an abortion clinic by a pro-life couple. The couple, who can't have children of their own, intend to keep Sara as their prisoner until the baby is born.

Ironically, this is the better novella of the two. Sara is a protagonist who I really cared about and the couple who kidnaps her are villains I loved to hate. The story moves quickly, I read it in one sitting. Unlike Old Flames, Right to Life is the perfect length. It is very intense and has some brutal violence, which would be too overwhelming for novel length. I found myself disgusted with some parts, but I think my strong reaction is just a testament to how amazing it is. Readers who don't feel that way toward stories with brutal violence, may want to steer clear of this novella. Ketchum is great at writing realistic horror novels involving situations that you can see happening in real life.
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