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Posted October 19, 2011
LaFlamme has been steadily writing and releasing excellent horror and weird fiction books since 2005, and each one has had a slightly different but equally captivating overall character. I've liked and admired every single one of his books I've read, and that's most of them. Why one of the big publishers hasn't picked up his contract is beyond me.
I know in the past I've compared some of his storytelling skills to Stephen King's, but truly his voice is his very own, and a strong one at that. Unmistakable and somehow honest even though what he tells us word by word is a string of lies. That, I suspect, is because he knows the truth, intimately. Working the crime beat in Lewiston, Maine, is a hard way to learn about reality, yet that is what he does, every day, every late night shift. Yet somehow within him a spark of light still lives - though perhaps that light simply serves to throw darker shadows as he speaks in these stories.
Page by page in Box of Lies, LaFlamme giveth and he taketh away. Is what we imagine real? Is that which we think real imagined instead? In Table for One, LaFlamme turns the fancies of the paranoid mind of the restaurant diner into solid worse-than-you-could-imagine reality. In Pepper, a visiting alien finds out what makes Earthmen tick. In The Bender Argument, LaFlamme gives us a scenario that posits what you might get if you like philosophy a little TOO much, a story which would make one hell of a nightmare movie, a perfect Twilight Zone episode, and would make Philip K. Dick himself proud.
Those of us who spend time musing about the unknown histories of our local street people may notice that LaFlamme has the talent to transmute these blanks into new stories, such as Elsy in Find a Penny, wherein we find out what happens when you can't tell a bad penny from a good one until its spell is woven in intractable time. Others of us who wonder what happens in communities after the press is done reporting on the latest icy winter sport fatalities will find out perhaps more than we wanted to know in Bone Lake, where the search goes on for the dead that have left land for the cold dark waters.
The 28 stories in Box of Lies vary in size from 5 pages to 31 pages in length, which gives a wonderfully varied pace to the collection, and subject matter ranges from the graphically horrific to the futuristically normal, which reminds me of some of my favorite horror/weird fiction authors' collections, like Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. I've dipped back into the stories in this book several times since it first came my way, and I can guarantee I'll be doing that again in the years to come. I recommend you do the same!