Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review of Graham Masterton's The Sphinx

Title:  The Sphinx

Author:  Graham Masterton

Publisher:  MHB Press

Date: 2010

Pages: 167


For up and coming politician Gene Keiller an attraction to a beautiful woman is no strange thing.  But Lorie Semple is no ordinary woman.  She has a secret.  She has history.  And when the attraction becomes obsession he takes his first steps on a perilous journey where myth and reality collide with devastating consequences. A savage beast is unleashed and by the time he discovers the truth the mysterious beauty who has so captivated his soul it is far too late to run. 

I usually don’t post negative reviews of books.  As an author, I know full well the time it takes to write a book and the emotional investment that is made in the process.  Just because I’m not intrigued by a plotline or don’t like the way a character was portrayed, it’s not fair for me to bad mouth another author’s work.  I’ve read several novels over the past few months that have not been discussed in this blog for that reason.  This time, however, I’m making an exception.

What bothers me is that the review is of a Graham Masterton novel.

Anyone who follows my blog or interviews knows that Graham Masterton is one of my favorite authors.  His first novel, The Manitou, which I read when I was ten years old, hooked me on the genre.  After that, I devoured every one of his books like a ravenous zombie ripping into a bus full of cheerleaders.  Picking up one of his novels, I was guaranteed an edge-of-my-seat ride as Graham would take an infamous legend or twisted premise and turn it into a tension-filled, action-packed, gore-laced thriller.  Graham Masterton never failed to deliver.  At least until I read The Sphinx.

Originally published in 1978, The Sphinx was released this year by MHB Press as a signed, limited hard cover edition selling for $60 (or for $625 if you want the deluxe, lettered edition).  Gene Keiller, a self-important and egocentric mid-level State Department diplomat, meets the stunningly beautiful Lorie Semple at a dinner party and is determined to see her again despite the woman’s protestations.  After much persistence, Gene finally gets his wish and starts dating Lorie, only to discover that she and her mother are the last of the Ubasti, an ancient race that was half-woman/half-lion.  Although Lorie claims to love him, Gene begins to worry that he is being set up by the Semple women to be a blood sacrifice to keep the Ubasti bloodline alive.

The Sphinx lacked all of the elements I’ve grown to love in a Graham Masterton story.  There was no mounting tension, no surprising revelations or plot twists, no horrible and gory deaths.  The characters were two dimensional and, for the most part, unlikeable.  I was more than one hundred pages into the book before the story began to pique my interest.  Even the climax was the least exciting of any of his works that I’ve ever read. 

If you have cash to spend and you don’t mind paying the overly-inflated price to have a signed copy of a Graham Masterton book on your shelf, then by all means get a copy before they are all sold out (the cover art by Ben Baldwin is extremely well drawn and attention grabbing).  Other than that, I wouldn’t spend the money; you would be better off trying to find a first edition of The Manitou or The Devils of D-Day on e-bay and purchasing them.

The Sphinx was a major disappointment for a big-time Graham Masterton fan like me.  I give this book one out of five rotting zombie heads.

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