"What are you suggesting?" Christopher asked.Cleverly, Tallis sets this tale of increasing terror in 1975-1976, well before widespread digital technology can take on a role in the exploration of what's taking place. The changes that push the book's horror side are internal: Christopher's growing obsession with recording what he believes are spirit voices -- his wife Laura's crumbling personality -- and the reader's painful awareness that little Faye is increasingly unsafe in the house and with these parents.
The engineer studied the smoke rising from his cigarette. "I don't think these voices are radio transmissions."
"Then what are they?"
"I don't know, but ..."
"You'll just say I smoke too much Mary Jane."
"If you think you know what's going on, say."
"I don't know what's going on. Not really. It's just a thought."
"I don't think they're transmissions. I think they're communications."
The two men looked at each other and the quiet seemed to congeal around them.
I'm a mom and have a couple of wee grandsons who now occupy the "worry zone" of my mind and heart; this book terrified me. That said, Tallis is a master of his craft, and every twist, every drawn-out moment of risk and threat, every terrible unavoidable step toward disaster is immaculately scripted.
If you can't get enough Stephen King or Dave Zeltserman to feed your taste for psychological suspense, THE VOICES (and the two earlier F. R. Tallis titles) should zip onto your shelf this season. And if you're collecting Barbara Vine among your British crime fiction, THE VOICES should set right next to her books. We all have a sense of what's creepy; Tallis grabs it, pins it to the pages, and provides the dread and clenched stomach that mark a gifted work of crime horror.