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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street,  East Providence, RI 02914

Last Update 2/24/21

The Priestess by Frank Lauria, Bantam, 1978 

This Doctor Orient novel is slightly better than its predecessors. The plot pretty much makes sense although a lot of the supporting incidents had me scratching my head, wondering if the author ever actually lived in the real world. A football player is the head of a voodoo cult and an associated organized crime organization. Our hero is on the run from the CIA, which wants to exploit his occult knowledge. He falls in love with a woman whom the cult kills, so naturally he has to cut off its head. 2/24/31

The Seth Papers by Frank Lauria, Ballantine, 1979 

The shortest of the Doctor Orient novels is just as opaque and annoying as the others. Orient is hiding in Tangiers because the CIA wants to use his occult powers, but those powers are not much in evidence as he is once again manipulated by others and only wins out through luck. Orient falls in love with another evil woman, this one armed with a magical talisman. She plans to kill the Pope and use occult powers to transform the Vatican, but he comes to his senses and kills her instead. Boring. 2/18/21

Baron Orgaz by Frank Lauria, Bantam, 1974

Another tedious and illogical occult adventure. A cult derived from the Nazis is ritually executing gay men and using their captured spirits to acquire some unspecified occult power. Dr. Orient’s girlfriend has somehow fallen under their influence and he conducts seances, exorcisms, and lengthy meditations to combatting the menace.  2/8/21

Lady Sativa by Frank Lauria, Curtis, 1973 

The third in the series is somewhat an improvement, but that’s not saying much. Orient receives a grant from a European psychic study group, but almost immediately undergoes a personality change – rage and blackouts – as well as physical alterations – he grows hair on his hands. Yes, he has been infected by a werewolf and has to figure out if he is guilty of a murder, and who is responsible for his infection. Tolerable but endlessly talky and the occult undercurrents are boring and inconsistent. 2/2/21

Raga Six by Frank Lauria, Bantam, 1972  

The second in the Doctor Orient series was decidedly not an improvement over his terrible debut. Orient gives up all of his worldly possessions and joins a comic book style hippie commune, where he discovers that two mediums are possessed by evil spirits and has them exorcized. He then takes a cruise to the Mediterranean and notes that young women appear to be dropping dead of a rare blood disease. He meets a doctor and his wife. The doctor is trying, supposedly, to cure these women and has an island clinic. The wife seduces Orient. The husband eventually goes crazy and tries to kill Orient but dies instead. Orient makes several incredibly stupid decisions before realizing that his new lover – not to mention his previous one – are sacrificing people to make themselves immortal. I have rarely read a more boring novel completely to the end. 1/25/21

The Books of Blood Volume 6 by Clive Barker,  1985 

Also published as Lord of Illusions. A woman becomes fascinated with a mysterious crypt that is to be breached by a new construction project. Shady entrepreneurs in South America kill a child and offend a village, resulting in bizarre retribution. Spies from both sides of the Iron Curtain are caught up in a threat that transcends politics.  This was the weakest volume in the series – the stories are all readable but none are memorable. Barker’s storehouse of ideas may have run low, and he in any case was soon writing doorstop sized novels and never looked back. 1/19/21

The Books of Blood Volume 5 by Clive Barker, 1985 

Also published as In the Flesh. “In the Flesh” is a creepy story set in a prison involving dreams of a city occupied entirely by dead murderers. “The Forbidden” was the basis for the Candyman movies about a supernatural serial killer. Another story features a shady entrepreneur who encounters inhuman creatures in an abandoned hotel. The last story is about a woman who stumbles into an installation where the secret masters of the world are being held prisoner. It’s one of the weaker stories. 1/7/21

Doctor Orient by Frank Lauria, Bantam, 1970  

Opening volume in a series about a kind of occult detective, filled with extraordinary mental powers but presented in such a chaotic fashion that it is often difficult to figure out what is going on and who has what powers. Owen Orient is the protagonist who, with the aid of some telepathic friends, discovers that someone is using black magic somewhere in Manhattan in order to accumulate a massive amount of psychic power. Rather poorly written with doubletalk to smooth over the gaps of logic, new powers revealed whenever they are useful, and a lazy plot that never gains any momentum. 1/5/21

The Books of Blood Volume 4 by Clive Barker, 1985  

Also published as The Inhuman Condition. The story with that title involves a handful of punks who pick on the wrong derelict, one who has magical knots in his pocket. This volume contains “The Body Politic,” in which human hands decide to rebel against the rest of the body. A ghostly interact with an unhappy married couple at a motel where one of them killed the other. The final story – about an experiment that turns a man into a superhuman rapist – is one of the few Barkers I thought was awful. 1/3/21