The Hellfire Club: A Novel by Peter StraubThe Hellfire Club: A Novel by Peter Straub

The Hellfire Club: A Novel

byPeter Straub

Mass Market Paperback | June 29, 1997

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"Surprising twists [and a] wildly inventive plot."
--The New York Times

They are dying, one by one. Wealthy, middle-aged women in an exclusive Connecticut suburb. Their murderer remains at large. Nora Chancel, wife of publishing scion Davey Chancel, fears she may be next. After all, her past has branded her a victim . . . .

"Combines the intellectual-puzzle mystery with a powerful vein of psycho-thriller suspense."
--The Washington Post

Then Davey tells Nora a surreal story about the Hellfire Club, where years before he met an obsessed fan of Chancel House's most successful book, Night Journey--a book that has a strange history of its own. . . .

"One of the most chilling villains to come along since Hannibal Lecter."
--San Francisco Chronicle

Suddenly terror engulfs Nora: She must defend herself against fantastic accusations even as a madman lies in wait. And when he springs, she will embark on a night journey that will put her victimhood to rest forever, dead or alive. . . .
Peter Straub is the author of thirteen novels, and his books have been translated into twenty-one foreign languages. He is the recipient of the British Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and two World Fantasy awards. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he resided in Ireland and England for a decade, and now lives in New York City.
Title:The Hellfire Club: A NovelFormat:Mass Market PaperbackProduct dimensions:544 pages, 7 × 4.25 × 1.25 inShipping dimensions:7 × 4.25 × 1.25 inPublished:June 29, 1997Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345415000

ISBN - 13:9780345415004


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty Average Don't expect anything better than an average old-family-secrets-finally-revealed-mystery. If you want a really good read, I'd suggest Caleb Carr's The Alienist or The angel of darkness.
Date published: 2002-08-31

Read from the Book

SHORELANDS, JULY 1938   AN UNCERTAIN AGNES Brotherhood brought her mop, bucket, and carpet sweeper to the door of Gingerbread at nine-thirty in the morning, by which hour its only resident, the poet Katherine Mannheim, should have been dispatching a breakfast of dry toast and strong tea in the ground-floor kitchen. Agnes selected a key from the thick bunch looped to her waist, pushed it into the door, and the unlocked door swung open by itself. More uncertain than ever, Agnes bit her tongue and braved the interior.   She put her hands on her hips and bawled out the poet’s name. No response came from anywhere in the cottage. Agnes went into the kitchen and was dismayed to find on the floor an enormous coffee stain which had dried during the night to a tough brown skin. She attacked the stain with mop and bucket. When she had worked her way upstairs, she aired out the unused bedrooms and changed the linen on the poet’s rumpled but unoccupied bed.   On her way to Rapunzel and its two terrible occupants, onea penniless ferret, the other a pitted bull toad with wandering hands, Agnes ignored a Shorelands commandment and left Gingerbread’s door unlocked.   An hour after lunch, the novelist Mr. Austryn Fain carried a chilled bottle of Shorelands’ best Puligny Montrachet to the same door, knocked, tried the knob, slipped in, and peered into every room before taking the bottle back home to Pepper Pot. There he swigged half of the wine and hid the remainder in his closet to protect it from his more successful fellow novelist Mr. Merrick Favor, Pepper Pot’s other inhabitant.   After dinner the following night, the Shorelands hostess, Georgina Weatherall, led a deputation of anxious guests across the lawn from Main House and up the path to Gingerbread. Georgina trained her flashlight on the keyhole and declared the door unlocked. Directly behind her, Mr. Fain wondered how she could tell this from a merely visual inspection. Georgina banged the door open, stamped into Gingerbread, and threw on all the lights.   The search party found some of Miss Mannheim’s clothes in her closet, her toothbrush and other intimate things in the bathroom on the landing, a photograph of two small girls, pens, nibs, and ink bottle on the bedroom table, a few books stacked beside the bed Agnes had made up the previous morning. Over the cover-let lay a slate-gray silk robe, ripped about the arms. Georgina lifted the robe with two fingers, pursed her mouth, and let it drift back down onto the bed. “I am sorry to say,” she announced, not at all sorry, “that Miss Mannheim appears to have jumped the wall.”   No manuscript complete or incomplete was ever found, nor were any notes. Agnes Brotherhood never spoke of her misgivings until the early 1990s, when a murderer and a kidnapped woman were escorted into her invalid’s room on the second floor of Main House.     BOOK I   BEFORE DAWN   IN A TIME JUST BEFORE THIS TIME, A LOST BOY NAMED PIPPIN LITTLE AWOKE TO DEEP NIGHT.       1   AT THREE O’CLOCK in the morning, a woman named Nora Chancel, soon to be lost, woke up from the usual nightmares with the usual shudder and began for the thousandth time to check her perimeter. Darkness” an unknown room in which she dimly made out two objects which could have been chairs, a long table mounted with a mirror, invisible pictures in frames, a spindly, inexplicable machine out of Rube Goldberg, and a low couch covered in striped fabric. Not only was none of this familiar, all of it was wrong. Wherever she was, she was not safe.   Nora propped herself up on an elbow and groped for an illicit handgun on permanent loan from a neurosurgeon named Harwich, who had rotated back to a world neither one of them could actually remember. She missed Dan Harwich, but of that one did not think. (Good old Dan Harwich had once said, A bullet in the brain is better than a bullet in the belly.) Nora’s fingers slid across the sheet and rifled beneath pillow after pillow until bumping against the mattress seam at the other end of the bed. She rolled over and sat up, having just heard the sound of distant music.   Music?   Her own dark shape stared back from the mirror, and the present returned in a series of almost instantaneous recognitions. At home with her chairs, pictures, striped couch, and her husband’s unused NordicTrack, Nora Chancel had again murdered the demons of the past by scrambling out of sleep in her bedroom on Crooked Mile Road in Westerholm, Connecticut, a fine little community, according to itself a completely dandy community, thank you, except for one particular present demon who had murdered a number of women. Someday, she hoped someday soon, this would end. Her husband had spent hours reassuring her that it would end. As soon as the FBI and the Westerholm police did their job, life would go back to normal, whatever that was. The demon would turn out to be an ordinary-looking man who sold bug zappers at the hardware store, who trimmed hedges and skimmed pools on Mount Avenue, who came to your house on Christmas morning and waved away a tip after fixing your gas burner. He lived with his mother and worked on his car in his spare time. At block parties, he was swell behind the grill. As far as Nora was concerned, half a dozen oversized policemen were welcome to take turns jumping up and down on his ribs until he drowned in his own blood. A woman with a wide, necessarily secret knowledge of demons, she had no illusions about how they should be treated.   The music downstairs sounded like a string quartet.   Davey was up, trying to fix things by making endless notes on a yellow pad. He would not or could not take the single action which would fix those things that could be fixed: he refused to confront his father. Or maybe he was lying down on the family room sofa, listening to Beethoven and drinking kümmel, his favorite author’s favorite drink. Kümmel smelled like caraway seeds, and Hugo Driver must have reeked of cara-way, a fact unmentioned in the biographies.   Davey often reeked of caraway on the nights when he climbed late into bed. Last night, it had been two when he made it upstairs” the night before, three-thirty. Nora knew the hours because both nights the familiar nightmares had sent her galloping out of sleep in search of an automatic pistol she had dropped into a latrine one blazing June day twenty-three years before.   The pistol lay rusting at the bottom of what was by now probably a Vietnamese field. Dan Harwich had divorced and remarried, events for which Nora considered herself partially responsible, without ever having stirred from Springfield, Massachusetts. He might as well have been rusting beneath a field, too. You couldn’t fall in love that way twice” you couldn’t do anything the same way twice, except in dreams. Dreams never gave up. Like tigers, they simply lay in wait until fresh meat came along.   Excerpt From: Peter Straub. “The Hellfire Club.” iBooks.   Excerpt From: Peter Straub. “The Hellfire Club.” iBooks.   Excerpt From: Peter Straub. “The Hellfire Club.” iBooks.

From Our Editors

A riveting new thriller from the award-winning author of Ghost Story. Nora, a bored housewife, married to a weakling of a husband, is kidnapped at gunpoint by Dick Dart, a man who is suspected of committing four recent murders. Now Nora can stay alive only by feeding Dart's ego and outwitting him without seeming to do so.

Editorial Reviews

The Hellfire Club moves like an express train.”

The New York Times

The Washington Post

San Francisco Chronicle