Horrors!: If You Could See Me Now, by Peter Straub

If You Could See Me Now

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Peter Straub wrote If You Could See Me Now early in his career, spinning out an eerie, haunting tale of obsession and vengeance. The book opens with a vignette describing an erotic encounter between thirteen year old Miles Teagarden and his provocative cousin Alison, who seduces him into skinny dipping in a disused quarry. Twenty years later, college professor Miles convinces himself that he’s returning to his boyhood home in the midwest to write a book in a quiet, peaceful place. That bit of self delusion begins to break down the moment he sets foot in town. Someone has been abducting, battering, and murdering young girls, and it takes Miles a few days to realize that his former buddies consider him a likely suspect. Now he must come to grips with his past, and with the memories that he’s buried for so long.

With the mastery for which he’s now renowned, Straub intersperses the supernatural with the mundane, transforming the merely threatening with the terrifying and inescapable. Some of the choices that Miles makes are more than questionable, unless you accept the idea that he’s fated to behave exactly as he does. It’s easy to become immersed in the dreamlike ambience of this novel, and just when you and Miles are certain about who’s committing the murders, you’re yanked in another direction entirely. In If You Could See Me Now, it seems you can go home again, but you’ll wish you hadn’t.

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