The events of Peter Straub's childhood--including teaching himself to read in kindergarten, being involved in a car accident in first grade that left him in a wheelchair for a time, and developing a stutter that lasted until his 20s--conspired to give him something of a dislike for school. So after graduating with an M.A. from Columbia University in 1966, he did what anyone in a similar situation would have done: He became an English teacher at the very school he attended in Milwaukee. In 1969 he moved with his wife to Dublin, Ireland, to study for a Ph.D. There he began to write poetry, publishing two collections prior to his first novel, MARRIAGES, in 1973. Now living in London, Straub's work began to take a turn toward horror with JULIA and IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW--both about malevolent ghosts. But Straub didn't really hit the big time until 1979's GHOST STORY--about a group of elderly men whose regular ghost story-telling sessions become the target of a ghostly revenge--became a huge bestseller. The film version, made in 1981, featured among its extraordinary cast Fred Astaire (who was 82) and Melvyn Douglas (who was 80) in their last roles, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (at 72) in his penultimate role, and John Houseman (who was 79). After the success of GHOST STORY, Straub wrote SHADOW LAND and FLOATING DRAGON, before his 1984 collaboration with Stephen King, THE TALISMAN. After this, Straub began to slowly move away from the fantastic, all the while remaining a bestselling author. KOKO, the first book in a trilogy, was about a group of Vietnam vets hunting a killer. Like MYSTERY and THE THROAT--the other books in the trilogy--it focused more on mystery and detective themes, retaining only the barest of horror elements. With 1996's HELLFIRE CLUB, Straub finally jettisoned horror altogether, focusing on the complex relationship between an escaped psychopathic killer and his hostage. Averaging one book every three years or so, Straub is not the most prolific of authors, but, perhaps because of this, he is one of the most critically well-regarded best-selling genre writers.
"[T]his book is rich with well-realized characters and incidents, and as dazzling a literary performance as anything Straub has ever written....Quite a performance."
"[A] tour de force....Brilliant in its orchestration and provocative in its speculation, this novel ranks as one of the finest tales of modern horror." (starred review)
"Straub's writing has rarely been better or more precise....A DARK MATTER is a work of phantasmagorical horror. But the novel's quieter, more casual passages are the real reasons to savor Straub's engrossing book...."
From the Publisher
Critically acclaimed and best-selling author Peter Straub concocts a twisted and deliciously murky tale that reconstructs the events of a terrible night during the 1960s that left one dead and seven others forever changed and haunted. Years later the survivors are forced to face that night's events: one, Lee Harwell, is writing a book about the terrible event in an attempt to finally figure out what really happened. All had been seduced by the charismatic Spencer Mallon, a professor who might remind readers of Timothy Leary, and had willing joined him in the fatal ritual. But now, the memories are hazy due to the passage of time as well as psychological coping. Despite their efforts at suppression, however, the evil that ultimately lead to the death of a college student that night lingers on in each of them.
Years after a 1960s religious guru's clandestine activities with his most fervent acolytes results in a grisly murder, a man struggles to make sense of what happened to his wife and friends by writing a book for which he asks former followers to relive their experiences. (Suspense). Simultaneous.