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New thriller provides novel entertainment

By James Argendeli
CNN Headline News


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(CNN) -- Did you hear the one about the guy who walks into a bar and ...

Hold on, let's back up. This is not the start of a bar joke, but rather the opening to the compulsively readable new novel by award-winning author and editor David B. Silva. "All the Lonely People" is a page-turning exercise in thriller writing.

The story begins in "The Last Stop," a small California bar owned and operated by Chase Hanford. It's not a glamorous bar by any means, but the kind of place where everyone may know your name. Like the bar's jukebox, "The Last Stop" may not get much play, but it has its regulars.

On a bone-chilling night a stranger enters the bar -- a stranger with a small rosewood box that has an ancient symbol carved in the top. While this should be an omen, "The Last Stop" regulars let their curiosity get the better of them and ask the stranger to play "show and tell" with his mysterious artifact.

The stranger confides that the box is in fact a spirit box. All right, fine, a spirit box. Sounds innocuous enough. Now then, what is a spirit box? This is the heart of the mystery that our hero Chase is determined to solve. Once the box is opened, the denizens of "The Last Stop," Chase's life and that of his family may be changed forever.

Chase and his customers start to experience blackouts, loss of time, memory loss and bizarre symptoms of obsessive-compulsive behavior. There's one guy who becomes inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and bricks himself inside his house.

"All the Lonely People" takes traditional motifs of good and evil and expands these basic concepts into a thriller wrapped in the covers of a horror novel. By the story's conclusion, Silva has very subtly given the readers a doozy of a personal question: What would I do in the same situation? But keep in mind -- you may not like the answer.


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