SCREAMS marks the ﬁrst hardcover publication of three unusual tales of psychological suspense: The Will to Kill, Firebug and The Star Stalker. Both The Will to Kill and The Star Stalker have been unavailable in the US since their original publication. The Will to Kill and Firebug might be described as literary portraits of Carl Jung's "Shadow" archetype. This psychological period of Blochs novel writing also includes The Scarf, The Kidnapper, Spiderweb, The Dead Beat, The Couch, and Psycho. The anguished protagonists of these roman noirs struggle (often unsuccessfully) against possession by the dark and repressed elements of their own psyches. The Star Stalker shares a somewhat similar plot with The Will to Kill and Firebug: an unknown killer haunts the protagonist and his social circle. But instead of those earlier novels' guilt-ridden, intensely internal focus, The Star Stalker's narrative is more concerned with the outer world - in this case Hollywood in the Golden era. Bloch's thirty year career as screenwriter lends an authentic autobiographical quality to this behind-the-scenes novel, the coming of age of a young script writer.
Read Firebug some time shortly before the Ice Age and wasn't hugely impressed, but the others are new to me (though, doubtless, not so to certain haunters of this forum). Was particularly looking forward to The Star Stalker for a slimy fan potential I've since been advised is nowhere in evidence? If that's the case it's a scandalous swizz.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.