Mentioned in the afterword of Stephen King’s The Dark Half which also has a character named after one from another Stevens’ novel Dead City, finding a copy back in the day wasn’t as hard as now. Which is a shame, as it was published before the serial killer thriller was written to death, a genre I stopped reading when I would pick one up in a bookshop and struggle to remember if I had read it already. Thirty-three years on By Reason of Insanity still stands head and shoulders above nearly all of them.
And while I enjoyed Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, their tight writing and pared down story took away the need to reread them. They were a gripping one shot hit, brilliant for those very reasons, and if you haven’t read them you must. But By Reason of Insanity at 500 pages or so, with a plot that twist and squirms getting more and more desperate as it develops, rewards rereading and is one of a handful of books I return to.
Hopefully the rumours that Shane Stevens was a pen name for another author are true, otherwise he apparently passed away in 2007.
Guardian article c/o John Barger on Google+
*a shelf of books and a stocked kindle waiting for time