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Safe As Houses
Carol Anne Davis
Bloodlines/The Do-Not Press, 246 pages

Safe As Houses
Carol Anne Davis
Carol Anne Davis was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1961. After working briefly as an editorial assistant on a woman's magazine and at other jobs, she attended Dundee University to take a joint degree in English and Social Administration and, later, took a postgraduate diploma in Adult & Community Education at Edinburgh University. In 1998, she left Scotland and moved to the south of England.

Carol Anne Davis Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Not every person who falls victim to a serial criminal makes a fatal mistake. No one ever did anything to deserve that. But if you're still parking next to vans in dark parking lots, or getting just a little bit closer to give that stranger directions, you haven't been paying attention to a word I've said.

Crack the cover of Safe As Houses and you'll never make that mistake again. You'll also never feel completely secure again.

David Frate is that nightmare you hope never to meet -- the monster you fear when footfalls echo behind you. He is the sociopath who has taken those young women who all look vaguely alike, the children out playing just a little too late, the drifters shacking-up in the woods.

David Frate is a killer, and he's just getting started.

Jennifer Frate is the extremely unfortunate woman who happens to be his wife. Jennifer and their son Esmond are already his living victims. But Jennifer is starting to wise-up, and she's beginning to suspect things aren't right.

She's about to find out the awful truth; things are very wrong in Edinburgh. Young women are disappearing off the streets. And the truth is going to be worse than she ever imagined.

It will be worse than you imagined.

Davis is on familiar ground with Safe As Houses. She knows the psychology, behaviour, background, and methods of the serial criminal. She knows her subject and she is an expert at bringing the horrors to life on the page. This is scary stuff.

What makes it that much more terrifying is seeing how easily you or anyone you know could become the prey of such a monster. If this book doesn't leave you with your heart pounding and have you double-checking the back seat of your car, you are either braver or more foolish than I am. The climax of Safe As Houses is frightening in a way that Silence Of The Lambs could never be. Getting deep inside the murderer's mind forces the reader into a perspective that is as unforgettable as it is unnerving.

The twisted mess that is David Frate is a hollow, soulless hell. And anyone who crosses his path is going to be dragged, shrieking, into that hell with him.

Don't fail to notice the other scary details in Safe As Houses. The grinding poverty of the characters' everyday lives and the system that keeps them down has its own fear factor. The brutal, sadistic upbringing that produces things like David Frate is a nightmare that exists in every stratum of society. The adults who look the other way are contributing in their own little way to the carnage.

Read Safe As Houses, dark realism at its best. Memorize its lessons. Marvel at Davis' talent. And start sleeping with a light left on.

Copyright © 1999 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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