John Saul fans, horror fans, thriller fans, step right up. The
master of the supernatural thriller is at it again, and THE RIGHT
HAND OF EVIL may be his best offering to date. Tackling Satanism
and pure evil, this novel is disturbing and unrelentingly intense.
Although many Saul novels touch on ghosts and haunted places, none
of them deal so extensively with Evil.
The Conway family of Shreveport, Louisiana is on a downhill slide,
both financially and emotionally. Assistant hotel manager Ted
Conway has lost his job once again due to his drinking.
Realistically, he has no more prospects for a job in Shreveport.
His wife Janet is barely keeping the family afloat with sales of
her paintings, but the tension in the household is strengthening
her resolve to take the children, 15-year-old twins Kim and Jared
and 15-month-old Molly, and leave Ted and his problems
Fate steps in with the impending death of Ted's Aunt Cora. Cora
entrusts the Conway family Bible to Father Devlin, her confessor.
As the story progresses in the present, the Bible reveals a family
past filled with suicides and murders. Cora also gives a small gold
cross to each of her great-nieces, Kim and Molly, saying the
crosses will protect them. Cora places Kim's cross around her neck
before she dies, while Molly's cross is delivered to her mother for
safekeeping until she's older.
Ted is the heir to the family home in the small town of St. Albans.
The house was abandoned 40 years earlier (Cora was confined to a
mental institution after her husband George hung himself and Cora
delivered a baby that was never found) and has been the subject of
town gossip and fear for many years. Unaware of most of the
stories, at least at first, the Conways look at this as an
opportunity to start over. With a trust available to fix up the
property as long as they live in the house, money is readily
available for the renovations needed for Ted's ambition to turn it
into a small hotel.
Talk of the evil possessing the ancestor who built the house, which
is passed down through generations of Conway men, has been a staple
of town gossip for over a century. Only a few days after the
Conways move in, the evil already has a stranglehold on Ted and his
son Jared. When bad things start happening around town, Jared,
whose personality has changed completely, always seems to be
around. But Ted, who has stopped drinking and now appears to be the
model husband, father and community member, uses his charisma to
convince his wife and neighbors that Jared is just stretching his
teen wings and can't possibly have anything to do with the
As the story progresses, Kim experiences terrible nightmares that
always include her brother and a strange, satanic cathedral that
appears behind a door in the basement. She doesn't understand
what's happening, but her "twin thing" with Jared is gone, and
she's the only family member that suspects something isn't right.
Ultimately, it will fall on Kim's shoulders to save her family from
the evil that permeates the house.
Through intense description and masterful storytelling, John Saul
delivers a taught, supernatural thriller, adding yet another great
book to his 20-year career of bestselling novels.
Reviewed by Mary Ellen Gustafson on January 23, 2011