THE HELL CANDIDATE
By Graham Masterton
Written in 1981 and initially released as by ‘Thomas Luke,’ Graham Masterton’s political horror novel tells the story of Hunter Peal, a mild-mannered businessman who decides to run for the Presidency of the USA. Initially he seemed pleasant and moderate … but then everything started to change.
As his popularity grew, so did his ability to influence people, sending them weeping to their knees, and seeing sights which no cameras could capture. And what of his opponents and the strange ‘accidents’ which befell them? Indeed, Hunter Peal was not the man he once was … one of the denizens of Hell has made a pact with him, and on his inauguration, all Hell will be let loose. Literally.
What is so interesting about the novel is the way that Masterton sets the lead up to the elections, and the way that Peal manipulates all those around him, resulting in the unthinkable happening … Some of the passages in the book could even come from today’s political speeches:
This country is going to be fearsome again! This country is going to be dominant again! We used to be the greatest in the world, and we let ourselves be led astray by nerveless liberals and spineless compromisers! We let ourselves be emasculated by cranks and Communists, and turned around by spluttering fools who spoke of peace and love and honour. Didn’t they realise that peace is only achieved through imperious strength, that love can only be enjoyed in the context of invincible security, and that honour is only the respectable name for the inspiration of utter fear?
They listened to Nixon. They listened to our friend the president. Have you read, actually read, what drivel those two spoke? But they listened to them, you know, and they voted. They voted because they thought they could sniff the tempting scent of a land flowing with milk and honey, a land they used to have and which they lost. Well, I’m going to give that land back to them. I’m going to give them a land of waving wheat and factories and prosperous farms. I’m going to give them everything.
On a personal note, I’ve long been a fan of Graham Masterton’s work, and THE HELL CANDIDATE is right up there with the best. When Graham mentioned to us that the book was available and that due to today’s ‘political climate’ it was proving hard to place anywhere, I knew that Telos would take it! And why wouldn’t we? Rich in imagery and horror, sexual tension and demonic possession mixed in with political fervour and characters who simply leap from the page … the book is simply astonishing!