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Mark of the Beast
By Brian Ball

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Mark of the Beast

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Mark of the Beast
By Brian Ball
Linford Mystery Library: Large Print (2009)
ISBN: 978-1-84782-636-7
Genre: Mystery, Horror

Reviewed by Herbert White - May 26, 2009

When you conduct a seance, you are asking to be connected to the deceased who reside in another realm - some may say this realm is heaven, some to may say it is hell. Either way, it is not a place where mere mortals were ever meant to go, and it is a place that may offer you more than just a few moments conversation with the dearly departed. Most however, think of a seance as nothing more than a cute parlor trick or harmless fun. To their determent, Janice and Alan Charnock were to discover that a seance can have a life altering affect on the living - and not necessarily a positive one!

Although best known as an author of science fiction, Brian Ball's book, the Mark of the Beast fits in best with the horror genre. This story includes a smattering of spirit guides, witches, a drunken ex-priest who had seen the devil, and other unearthly phenomenon. The story mainly focuses on Alan's endeavors to discover what is wrong with his wife. After they attend a seance overseen by the medium, Mrs. Worrall, Janice begins to act strangely. She takes to wandering around naked, and when she is dressed, Alan often finds blood on her clothing. Worse, she no longer seems to be the Janice that he's always known. He cannot quite put his finger on what's wrong with her, but he instinctively knows that something strange is going on. As he endeavors to get to the bottom of this mystery, he finds that devil worship and other sinister forces may be involved in his wife's transformations. Most important, once he discovers the truth, will he also be able to find a way to get his wife, and his life, back to normal?

Mark of the Beast is a quick read that will keep you guessing as to what really is going on. Ball's characters are interesting, especially the ex-priest Ruane who serves as a sort of anti-hero in the story. Mark of the Beast is the first book in Ball's Witchfinder series, and it is followed by The Evil at Monteine, and although the first book in the series, it is a self-contained story and while it sets the stage for the second book, it does not leave the story hanging. Overall, an interesting book, one that is perfect of a lazy afternoon or to wile-away the time while waiting for a plane, your kids, or just the hours before dawn...

This is the first Brian Ball book that I've read, and I look forward to trying out some of his science fiction offerings. If you enjoyed this book and Ball's work is new to you, or you're an old fan, also keep an eye out for books by Brian Kinsey-Jones and Brian N. Ball - they are all the same person ;-)

As well, some of the other titles by Ball that have been published in large print as part of the Linford Mystery Library include:
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