“Foster transcends comparison by a longshot with his own personal style while dispatching one of the most horrifying stories we’ve read in quite a while.”
John C Foster’s latest novel, Mister White, is a strange hybrid rarely attempted before; a combination espionage thriller blended with hellish horror, heavy on the hellish horror. As strange as the description of this horror novel sounds, this unlikely Reese’s Peanut-Butter Cup is actually a breath of fresh air, and firmly cements Foster as one of those writers you need to watch out for, in a good way. Featuring multiple viewpoints and international locations, perhaps the best way to think of the story is if Robert Ludlum and Clive Barker somehow created a fictional lovechild, then Mister White would be such a child.
You dare not say his name, yet everyone wants to know exactly who is this Mister White. Instead of giving us a direct answer, Foster uses his story to show his readers why you really, really don’t want to know who he is. This horror is of the Third Reich Nazi occult era, and Mister White is a hellish weapon of mass destruction, now unleashed and uncontrollable. Foster’s cinematic style is perfect for this kind of story, and each scene is a beautiful set-piece chock full of visceral details assaulting every sense. The story is focused around Lewis Edgar and his estranged wife, Cat, and his daughter Hedde. Lewis was once out in the field, but now he’s just a ‘listener’, married to his job, and definitely not in any shape for the horrors he’s about to confront. With a single email, Lewis sends a code word to Cat that sets their escape in motion. A safety deposit box contains even more cryptic directions, forcing Cat to drop what she’s doing, leave the area immediately, and wait for further instructions. The code word is the last thing any of them ever want to hear, and Foster makes it clear that evil is coming, and they’ve got to find a way to stop it. The action is frantic, well-paced, and layered with more in-depth characterization, allowing the reader to relate to these players. Foster ups the stakes with each scene; the danger is real, and there’s precious little time to find a place to hide from it. Lewis makes his way across country, desperately trying to find a way to stop the nightmare headed their way. He meets with many unsavory types, slowly coming to grips with the life or death situation he, and his family, have been forced into. He boards the Berlin Night Express, and it is here that Foster cranks up the horror to eleven with one of the most disturbing scenes in the whole novel.
Foster takes a little bit of time introducing his cast, and we get to know each character while he ramps up the weird plot points, pushing the story forward in tight, bloody chunks. If there’s any complaint, it’s perhaps he spends too little time at the beginning with each character, which is typical of multiple narrator stories in the espionage genre. Fortunately, Foster keeps the story moving with mounting scenes of horror, each more gruesome than the previous. With a flair for captivating the scenes by utilizing all of the senses, the story moves along like a nightmare freight train in the night.
As tough a sell as a spy-thriller/horror novel is, Mister White will leave you shaking, and stirred. Foster manages to pull off the unimaginable with precision and grace that fits the story perfectly. Calling Mister White a mishmash of Robert Ludlum and Clive Barker really doesn’t do the story any justice, as Foster transcends comparison by a longshot with his own personal style while dispatching one of the most horrifying stories we’ve read in quite a while. Never before has espionage and horror been done together so well, and we can’t recommend John C. Foster’s Mister White enough.
Publisher: Grey Matter Press
Release Date: 5 April 2016
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