Ugly BehaviorUgly Behavior
Steve Rasnic Tem

New Pulp Press, 220 pages
Review by Mario Guslandi

Steve Rasnic Tem is a well known author of dark fiction whose stories are usually insightful journeys in the horrors of everyday life, especially where family ties are concerned.

Besides his body of work in the area of “quiet” horror, Tem has also penned a handful of more graphic, bluntly horrific pieces, now collected in a single volume, certainly not suitable for the more squeamish readers, but very effective and extremely well crafted.

“Saguro Night,” for instance, is an excellent story featuring a painter living with his daughter in the Sonora desert. A tale about arts, violence and parental love framed by a harsh natural environment.

In the disturbing “In His Image” a loner encounters a masked pregnant woman hiding the signs of a secret violence, while in the nasty “You Dreamed It” an obnoxious stepfather finally gets his well deserved punishment.

Like a talented painter Tem draws a series of remarkable portraits: in “The Child Killer” he depicts a particularly sinister bogeyman (The Sackman) and his encounter with a smart little girl unwilling to share the same fate of other children and in “The Crusher” he portraits a huge man cursed by the ability to crush and break things with incredible ease.

“Living Arrangement” is a truly disquieting piece where an old man gets unwillingly involved in a bleak situation of domestic violence.

The best story in the book is, in my opinion, “Rat Catcher” a creepy, quite horrific story revolving around a house infested with rats and a weird rat catcher with suspicious attitude. A fine example of great storytelling.

I strongly recommend this collection.

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