The Hellfire Club Review
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A little bit mystery, a little bit suspense, a little bit thriller, The Hellfire Club is several stories in one. Unfortunately, those stories are quite complicated and donít fit together all that well.

The book revolves around Nora Chancel, the wife of a lying, spineless papaís-boy whoís heir to the throne of a successful publishing house. Her husbandís grandfather, Lincoln Chancel, who wasnít exactly known for his sunny disposition, built his company on one book -- a cult classic called Night Journey, written by Hugo Driver. Chancel and Driver met at Shorelands, a kind of summer camp for writers, during the summer of 1938 -- a summer during which one other guest, Katherine Mannheim, disappeared forever and after which a couple of others committed suicide. Now, several years later, the sisters of the author who disappeared from Shorelands in 1938 have discovered some documents that they believe prove that their sister was the real author of Night Journey.

Meanwhile, Dick Dart, a serial killer, is caught in Noraís quiet New England town. But it turns out that he didnít commit one of the murders that heíd been accused of. And when the victim is discovered -- and sheís still alive -- she accuses Nora of kidnapping and torturing her. When Noraís brought in to the police station, the serial killer makes a daring escape -- and takes Nora with him on his next crime spree. Suddenly, it appears as though Katherine Mannheimís sisters arenít the only ones who want to find out where Night Journey really came from -- and Dick Dart is prepared to rape and murder anyone who comes between him and the answer...

I had a hard time getting into The Hellfire Club. In fact, it was pretty slow going for the first hundred pages or so. And when it did finally pick up, I was frustrated by the incongruity of some of the stories -- and how Straub would totally abandon and forget about plotlines for a while. The two main plot lines are decent, but the side stories just donít seem to work -- and the result, unfortunately, is a bit of a mess.

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