Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Auctioneer by Joan Samson

How's this for a throwback post? So I recently dove into Grady Hendrix'x Paperbacks From Hell (review to come) and was inspired to seek out some of the titles he highlighted, including this one from 1977.

John Moore and his family may not have much, but they have each other. And they have their land. Paid off in full, the property has been in the family for generations. John and his wife, Mim, work hard to care for and live off of the land and it's their every intention to pass it along to their daughter one day. 

After a spate of crime rocks their small community, the local sheriff is grateful to the help offered by the new auctioneer in town. His weekend events have raised money enough to add more than one deputy to the force as well as a number of other assets. But when the auctions continue, week after week, the locals begin running out of things to give. 

The Auctioneer reminded me, to some extent, of Needful Things. Except instead of giving, the auctioneer takes. And takes and takes and takes.

This is a quiet tale compared to a lot of genre reads. It's not very graphic and it's definitely not in your face horror. Instead, it's a story of an insidious creeping kind. The horror sneaks up on you, just as it does on the characters in the story. And by the time you're well into it, it's much too late to turn back.

John Moore lives by his land. It's his everything. So at first, giving to the local auction, for a good cause, is fine. Even still, he should listen to his initial discomfort when he meets the auctioneer. But the auctioneer is good at what he does - he manipulates people. Sometimes it's through cleverness and charm, other times it's by other means. Either way, he gets the people in the community right where he wants them.

The moral of this story is the danger of standing by. The danger in assuming that if something isn't immediately affecting you, you're safe from the danger. And though it was published over 30 years ago, it's a moral that's all too timely today.

Incidentally, this is the only book Samson ever wrote. She unfortunately passed away shortly after this one was published. At the time, there was supposed to be a movie adaptation in the works that apparently also fell through when Samson passed.

The Auctioneer is currently out of print but I was able to find a used copy fairly easily. Maybe if there's enough demand a certain publisher that has brought back quite a few OOP horror titles will add it to their catalog!

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