If nothing else, Bed of Nails is a milestone, the tenth volume in a series authored under the pseudonym of Michael Slade. Without exception, they belong in the hack and splash section of the bookstore. These are serial killer horror stories with a thin veneer of detective mystery story. One can honestly say that, regardless of which of the many authors is part of the current writing team, the stories are all almost identical in nature. Although the earlier books were a bit more varied in the details. Nowadays, a new Slade novel means someone is having Inspector Zinc Chandler for lunch again.
Slade stories always border on the zany, and Bed of Nails is no exception. In many cases, the only people who seem to be running on all cylinders are the victims. Another feature is unending details about everything from cannibalism and tarot cards to child abuse in the Canadian Bible Belt. I have mixed feelings about this because some of it advances the plot and some is just idle chit chat to fill space. If you like gruesome, Slade & Co. are just the writers for you. Unfortunately the overall atmospherics (whacked-out killers, semi-competent Mounties, and sarcastic bystanders) lowers the impact of the gruesomeness. It brings you up short when you realize that you are reading a description of the discovery of the victims parts (and what the killers did with those parts) as if it were a comedy or errors. As I've already said, nothing really has changed from the first book in the series. If you have liked them so far, you will like Bed of Nails. But they are getting a bit too cookie cutter and formulaic to gain excellent grades. Slade's writing, if you will, has failed to develop, despite the continuous rotation of authors. Besides that, if Zinc Chandler gets ground up once more there won't be enough of him for another story.
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