Shane Briant is a new voice in suspense and terror fiction. In his debut novel, Worst Nightmares (Vanguard Press; May 2009; $19.95), Briant leads readers deep into the mind of a depraved and brutal serial killer in a tale that is both a tantalizing thriller and a story of unraveling friendship, love, and betrayal. What would you do if you discovered that the key to your deepest desire also locked you forever in your worst nightmare?
Description: Literary golden boy Dermot Nolan lives with his gorgeous wife and editor, Neela, in a tri-level, Architectural Digest-worthy loft created by world-renowned designer Alex Popov. Winner of the coveted Man Booker Prize and an internationally bestselling author, Dermot seems to have it all-until his muse deserts him. His half-million dollar advance for his next novel is spent. Dermot’s agent, Esther Bloom, is demanding his long-overdue work, a megawatt film deal hangs in the balance, his wife desperately wants a baby and can’t hide her ears that their marriage has fizzled, and he is reduced to selling off their highly valuable original artworks through Nick Hoyle, their closest friend and a private art consultant to L.A.’s wealthiest businessmen.
When a gnarled homeless man with a weather-beaten face leaves a bulky envelope in his mailbox, Dermot dismisses it as another schlocky unsolicited manuscript forced on him by a hopeful unknown writer. Unable to put it down, Neela thinks the crudely handwritten diary-My Worst Nightmares – My Delicious Memoirs by Albert K. Arnold-is brutal, nihilistic, and sadistic, yes, but primal, visceral material that can be transformed into a bestseller. The diarist is the Dream Healer, a serial killer who seduces his victims by luring them to his website with promises to cure forever the pain and fears that trouble them, and then revisits their very own nightmares upon them, torturing and mutilating them beyond recognition.
Drawn deeper and deeper into the Dream Healer’s chilling world, Dermot slowly begins to realize and then confirms that the scenarios he thought were fictional are accurate, minute-by-minute accounts of a mass murderer’s savage crimes. Repulsed, yet strangely fascinated, trapped by mounting debt and his inability to commit even one original idea to paper, when he is led to the mangled body of the man he knew as Arnold, he decides to rewrite the Dream Healer’s tales as a way to raise his own literary career from the dead.
Soon, Dermot is being haunted by the Dream Healer’s victims, hiding crime evidence in his home, lying to Neela about his discoveries, fearful he is being stalked, and in too deep to explain his actions to the authorities. He finds some comfort when he finally confides in Nick, and when his new novel, Worst Nightmares, becomes a nationwide sensation, he can almost breathe freely. But then Arnold-or is it someone impersonating the dead diarist-calls in to the radio interview on which Dermot is discussing his book. Crime journalist Jeff Schipp is receiving tips about burial sites eerily and remarkably similar to Dermot’s “fictitious” descriptions, and Esther, Dermot’s lawyers, and the police are demanding the facts behind Worst Nightmares.
When Dermot’s friend on the police force, Detective Mike Kandinsky-who has uncovered a link among the killings depicted in Worst Nightmares-is brutishly murdered by the Dream Healer, Dermot’s name is cleared, but his career is in shreds, and his personal nightmare is just beginning. As the details surrounding the tragic deaths of Nick’s wife and children unfold, it is only a matter of time before Dermot succumbs to the nightmarish demise the Dream Healer has prepared for him, and the slaughterer reaches for Neela, now mother to an infant daughter.
You can learn more and/or purchase the novel here: Worst Nightmares