The Frightened Man Review
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It’s been years since the killer known as Jack the Ripper haunted the streets of London. But, one night, a man named Mulcahy arrives at Denton’s flat, claiming that The Ripper is after him. As Denton, a widely acclaimed horror author, listens rather impatiently, Mulcahy tells an unimaginably gruesome tale before running off in fear.

The next morning, the front page of the newspaper reports a grisly murder that took place the night before. The victim was a teenaged prostitute named Stella Minter, but the details are suspiciously similar to those in Mulcahy’s story. Intrigued by the case, Denton heads to the police headquarters to share his information—and, he hopes, to get some information in return.

Before long, the blocked writer is so tangled in the case that the detective in charge begins to suspect that he might have been involved. Someone else, however, is desperate to keep him from getting any closer to the truth.

The Frightened Man is a dark and chilling tale that’s sure to grab readers’ attention from the very first chapter. Mulcahy’s story is definitely horrifying—though it might lead you to believe that the case could have some connection to Jack the Ripper (whose mystery I still find gruesomely fascinating). Unfortunately, though, any mention of The Ripper is dropped rather quickly, leaving behind a rather perplexing mystery.

Readers are supposed to understand that Denton’s interest in the case is both intellectual and psychological—that, in tracking down the killer, he’ll somehow understand himself and his own behavior better. And as Denton tries to track the killer, he also battles some of his own demons. In a way, it seems as if Cameron were trying to focus on psychological horrors—just as Denton does with his own novels. Yet that part of the story isn’t developed enough. Though he offers snippets of Denton’s past, Cameron keeps his readers at an arm’s length, telling some of Denton’s stories without allowing readers to understand who Denton is or why he feels the way he does. And the details that are given don’t exactly make him a likeable character.

At the same time, other parts of the story get bogged down in too many details—often in long, drawn-out, descriptions of rooms. And although the seedy, turn-of-the-century settings are interesting, the descriptions are tedious and hard to follow. I sometimes found myself going back and starting the same paragraph two or three times, yet failing to absorb (or even care about) all of the details.

While The Frightened Man has a horrifying set-up—one that seems to promise a thrilling read—the pace slows as the story continues. In the end, it leaves too many questions unanswered, and the payoff simply isn’t enough.

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