In the small town of Blackstone some great wrongs have been done behind the walls of the Blackstone Asylum. We've had cursed object stories dating back centuries, and now, John Saul has written a novel that is being serialized in six monthly parts on how somebody is using cursed objects to extract vengeance on the descendents and surviving employees of the Asylum.
In "Twist Of Fate: The Locket", the second installment of "The Blackstone Chronicles" the object is a locket that had to be extracted via vivisection from a delusional paranoid woman's intestinal tract after she had swallowed it. This locket will be delivered, in the dead of night to Jules Hartwick, who is the owner and president of the First National Bank Of Blackstone, after one of his dinner parties, and he will immediately be changed by it. He becomes withdrawn and cartoonishly paranoid, his once loving marriage immediately begins to dissolve, and it becomes hellish for him. He begins to believe that his wife Madeline is having an affair with Andrew Sterling, who is his loans officer and his daughter Celeste's fiancé. He can't work, as he starts believing his secretary is trying to poison him, his employees are conspiring against him, and everybody is watching him. It's not helping that he is also having some real banking problems as he is being audited because of some impractical banking practices.
We begin to see a pattern here, as we find out that Jules mother had once been an asylum gray lady.
Meanwhile, Oliver Metcalf, the novel's central character, and who is also the publisher and editor of "The Blackstone Chronicle", Blackstone's weekly newspaper, is becoming closer to Rebecca Morrison, the town's assistant librarian. Unfortunately Rebecca, who has had an accident in the past, is in the charge of her Aunt Martha Wells, a totally cartoonishly twisted Christian who sees sin and corruption is everything. She does not approve of her niece getting friendly with anybody, much less Oliver, whose sister had a very mysterious death.
As in the first episode, mayhem will ensue the possession of the cursed object, and here Jules become totally unhinged. With this episode Saul is starting to develop his main characters more, and we are left wondering who will be next.
This episode gets three and half stars, and I'm rounding upwards, because of its quick pace and the intrigue of whom the mysterious character is, and why is he sending out these cursed objects. The trouble is that the episodes have yet to stand out in any sense so far as to be memorable unto THEMSELVES, and not just because they are part of a larger whole, and the characters have yet to be anything more than standard issue. Still, the mystery is becoming more and more intriguing. I will keep reading.
For this site I have all six of these volumes in this series:
The Blackstone Chronicles #1: Eye for an Eye: The Doll (Blackstone Chronicles).
The Blackstone Chronicles #2: Twist of Fate: The Locket (Blackstone Chronicles).
The Blackstone Chronicles #3: Ashes to Ashes: The Dragon's Flame (Blackstone Chronicles, Part 3).
The Blackstone Chronicles #4: In the Shadow of Evil: The Handkerchief (Blackstone Chronicles).
The Blackstone Chronicles #5: Day of Reckoning: The Stereoscope (Blackstone Chronicles, Part 5).
The Blackstone Chronicles #6: Asylum (Blackstone Chronicles) (No 6).