The tagline on the cover of John C. Foster’s Mister White states “Don’t speak his name.” After reading this fantastically taut and brutal slice of writing I can but heartily agree with that statement and say that if you do, well good luck, you are going to most definitely need it! This isn’t my first encounter with Foster’s creation. That joy was reserved for the original short story as it appeared in another Grey Matter Press’ publication, the anthology Dark Visions Two. This novel builds on that story’s promise and delivers a superb melding of spy thriller and occult horror that crackles with tension and terror.
Set in the covert and shadowy world of espionage, the plot tracks a clandestine operative called Lewis who has the misfortune to utter the words “Who is Mister White?” after viewing a particularly harrowing interrogation clip. What follows is a particularly vicious game of cat and mouse as Lewis and his estranged family attempt to flee the unrelenting and mysterious force that is known as Mister White.
From the word go John C Foster creates a claustrophobic and menacing mood that seamlessly echoes the tension and grit of its twin genre roots. There is a slow burning sense of dread and inevitability to the proceedings as Mister White relentlessly hunts his prey to ground. You just intrinsically know from the first encounter that this is going to be very rough ride for all involved, especially when you are dealing with such a malevolent spirit on your tail.
Foster never really reveals what Mister White is and the titular character is left as a vaguely defined figure that initially crawls and skulks around in the shadows. Little hints and clues are dropped along the way that point towards Mister White as a force that should be leashed and contained but the ambiguity of his origins is more than compensated for by the cold, hard and brutal nature of his intent. Speak his name and Mister White will find you and make you eat your words.
Suffice to say that if you are the sort of person who enjoys “ripping yarns” that leave you breathless with the sharpness and quality of the writing then get stuck into this absolute killer of a book. Top notch entertainment!
Purchase a copy here
george illet anderson