Right Hand of Evil [NOOK Book]


When the Conways move into their ancestral home in Louisiana after the death of an estranged aunt, it is with the promise of a new beginning. But the house has a life of its own. Abandoned for the last forty years, surrounded by thick trees and a stifling sense of melancholy, the sprawling Victorian house seems to swallow up the sunlight. Deep within the cold cellar and etched into the very walls is a long, dark history of the Conway name--a grim bloodline poisoned by suicide, strange disappearances, voodoo ...
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Right Hand of Evil

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When the Conways move into their ancestral home in Louisiana after the death of an estranged aunt, it is with the promise of a new beginning. But the house has a life of its own. Abandoned for the last forty years, surrounded by thick trees and a stifling sense of melancholy, the sprawling Victorian house seems to swallow up the sunlight. Deep within the cold cellar and etched into the very walls is a long, dark history of the Conway name--a grim bloodline poisoned by suicide, strange disappearances, voodoo rituals, and rumors of murder. But the family knows nothing of the soul-shattering secrets that snake through generations of their past. They do not know that terror awaits them. For with each generation of the Conways comes a hellish day of reckoning. . . .
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Bestselling horror fiction has taken an interesting turn over the last couple of years. While Stephen King has been experimenting with the genre for some time now (Gerald's Game and Dolores Claiborne don't exactly fit the typical horror mold), every other major horror author clearly decided the time was right to flex his creative muscle. Dean Koontz has found a long life comfortably atop the bestseller lists with his mainstream terrors, Fear Nothing and Seize the Night; Anne Rice mixed the gothic with autobiography in Violin; the V. C. Andrews franchise found new life in the serial novel format King reinvented with The Green Mile; and somewhere Robert McCammon has a new historical epic that may or may not ever see the light of day.

So it's perfectly reasonable that John Saul, author of 22 popular chillers, decided to lighten up on the body count in order to focus more on a traditional haunted-house story for his new novel, The Right Hand of Evil. And fortunately, he pulls it off effortlessly.

Saul has always been most comfortable when pointing his horror toward the familial unit; here, however, the family begins the tale on the very edge of destruction. Janet Conway is a struggling artist who has to worry about not only three kids but also Ted, her alcoholic husband, who doesn't just fall off the wagon — he practically throws himself under its wheels. The kids — teenage twins Jared and Kimberley, and moppet Molly — would actually love nothing more than for Mom to leave the bum and take them with her. Before thatcanhappen, however, Ted's crazy Aunt Cora decides to die, leaving Ted a huge home in the sleepy town (is there ever any other kind in a Saul novel?) of St. Albans, Louisiana.

At first the inheritance of the house seems to actually whip Ted into shape. He's suddenly inspired to turn it into a little hotel — a decision that is met with fierce resistance by the rest of the town's residents, who soon let the Conways know that Ted's ancestors have a history tied to voodoo, infanticide, racism, infidelity, and murder (even cruelty toward animals gets its turn). This is enough to drive Ted back to the bottle. But during one particularly bad drinking spell, a nasty accident leaves him in a vulnerable position — one in which the Conway men unknowingly join hands with evil in a supernatural battle against the Conway women.

Unlike many of Saul's previous novels, The Right Hand of Evil does not feature excessive violence. Instead Saul focuses on giving his readers a satisfyingly suspenseful haunted-house tale. He has painted a convincing portrait of a woman who feels she's trapped in a bad marriage; he also demonstrates the extent to which parents can rationalize their offspring's eccentric — and sometimes disturbing — behavior as "just part of being a teenager." The entire Conway clan's descent into madness makes for quite a page-turner.

At times The Right Hand of Evil brings to mind a mix of King's The Shining and Bag of Bones. And it won't exactly come as a shock to Saul readers that it's mostly men doing the dirty deeds, and mostly women who have to fight against it. Let's face it, strong women characters are a staple of Saul's works, and in Janet and especially the intelligent Kimberley, Right Hand's got a great duo.

With an addictive story of supernatural suspense and appealing central characters, The Right Hand of Evil is a perfect way to generate a chill up your spine in the summer heat.

Matt Schwartz

Chris Petrakos
Best-selling Gothic Suspense-meister John Saul is back with a gory tale of evil that is both extreme and entertaining. The book's prologue hits hard: A woman suffocates her newborn baby, believing it to be a creature of evil, while her husband hangs himself from a tree.

Jump-cut to the Conway family: alcoholic husband Ted, fed-up mom Janet, and their three children. Dad has just inherited an old mansion in Louisiana from his crazy aunt, who we have met in the prologue. The aunt's will required Ted to send his children to parochial school, and to help pay for the expense, he decides to fix up the mansion and turn it into a hotel.

Faster than you say "The Shining," very weird things start happening in the old house, and the children are in mortal danger. The story's resolution comes on Halloween weekend, which is indicative of how many cliches the author indulges in. Still, he moves them along at a brisk clip and while he does nothing new with the haunted house theme, the idea itself still holds a bit of punch.
Chicago Tribune

William D. Gagliani
When a drunk Ted Conway is fired from his last-chance hotel job, his ever-patient wife Janet finally decides it may be time to take their three children and leave him. Ted has spiraled to a point where even his perfect teenage twins, Jared and Kim, can't stand him.

But then Ted's Aunt Cora, who never much liked him, dies in the Shreveport sanitarium which had been her home for years and inexplicably leaves Ted the family mansion, along with its bloody history of murder and mysterious disappearances. Another chance? Jane allows Ted to convince her that he can stop drinking, and that the mansion can be converted into an inn. Unfortunately, the Conway name is despised in St. Albans, and the new Conways meet opposition right from the start, not least from an obsessed Catholic priest, and also from Jake Cumberland, last descendant of the voodoo-practicing Conway servants.

Suddenly Janet detects a change in Ted, who becomes the husband she's missed for years. But why has Jared picked up all of Ted's worst qualities? Why has Jared and Kim's "Twin Thing" suddenly been silenced? And what of Father MacNeill's secretive attempts to deny Ted the zoning variance he needs to remodel the crumbling mansion?

Set aside superficial comparision to Stephen King's class The Shining - It's Jared, the son, who appears to have succumbed to the mansion's supernatural influence. And the results are quite different.

John Saul may not break any new ground here, but he has fashioned a slick, competent thriller in which deftly drawn characters must face the demons in their own lives to conquer that which claims the family's souls. That the list of survivors remains unpredictable to the end is testament to Saul's experienced approach, which has resulted in almost two dozen novels, many of them bestsellers.

Not known as a stylist, Saul uses a straightforward, uncluttered voice to good effect. Told with narrative verve from a sliding point of view, and with a penchant for realistic teenage dialogue, The Right Hand of Evil is gripping and fast-paced.

Kay Black
This is a good read, with just enough mind-numbing action to keep the reader glued to his seat.....[S]ide characters...keep the interest high, but the most fascinating character is that of the father, who has a dramatic change....If you like John Saul's style of writing and want fast-paced action with remarkable characters, you will like The Right Hand of Evil.
The Mystery Reader Online
Library Journal
The Conways inherit a long-abandoned house and a trust with enough money to allow them to restore the place to a habitable condition. This family of five has its problems--Ted's an alcoholic and Janet's a struggling artist--and they jump at the chance to own their own home. The three children are doing fine until they move into this house, which seems to have a life of its own--a life that includes voodoo, suicide, strange disappearances, and rumors of murder. Bill Weideman's reading is expressive, and his words are clearly enunciated. This easy-to-follow story will be in demand from horror and Dean Koontz fans. Recommended for public libraries.--Laurie Selwyn, Bells, TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kay Black
This is a good read, with just enough mind-numbing action to keep the reader glued to his seat.....[S]ide characters...keep the interest high, but the most fascinating character is that of the father, who has a dramatic change....If you like John Saul's style of writing and want fast-paced action with remarkable characters, you will like The Right Hand of Evil.
The Mystery Reader Online
Kirkus Reviews
Saul's twentysomethingth horror novel begins with vacuous overwriting that improves only slightly as he settles into a banality far less fresh than his better stuff (The Presence, 1997; Shadows,/i>,1992, etc.). In the prologue, a woman fearing that she's given birth to a creature of pure evil suffocates her newborn, while her husband eviscerates and hangs himself from a nearby tree. Next we meet Janet Conway, her three children (Jared, Kimberly, and baby Molly), and her alcoholic husband Ted, from whom she wants to split. But Ted, an assistant hotel manager just fired for drinking, has inherited a hulking old Victorian house in St. Albans, Louisiana, from his Aunt Cora, the crazy woman in the prologue. When the Conways go to St. Albans to look at the house, they find that a clause in the inheritance insists that their children must attend parochial school or else Ted, a lapsed Catholic, can't claim ownership. Ted's decision is to turn the hulk into a hotel, living in it during the transition — and so it is that young Kimberly starts hearing her great-aunt's suffocated baby wailing through the night. Déjà vu? Stephen King's The Shining, anyone? As the house is gradually repaired room by room, the town seeks to withhold permits for Ted's hotel because rumors abound of Satanism and devil worship taking place inside it. Meantime, when Kim's new friend Sandy sleeps over, she too begins to be drawn into the weird haze (as well as voices) that has swamped the house. Menaces seen and unseen float everywhere; reptilian demons arise; and Kim finds herself lost in a pagan cathedral. Are these events only her nightmares? On Halloween does Jared actuallyeviscerate their dog Scout? When Janet opens a door to find an abyss, is it real? Willing suspension of disbelief is one thing, but asking a reader to go along with immeasurably overfamiliar storytelling effects is another.
From the Publisher
—Publishers Weekly

—Chicago Tribune

"GRIPPING AND FAST-PACED . . . A slick thriller in which deftly drawn characters must face the demons in their own lives to conquer that which claims the family's souls."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345439796
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/24/1999
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 107,768
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

JOHN SAUL's first novel, Suffer the Children, published in 1977, was an immediate million-copy bestseller. He has since written twenty successive bestselling novels of suspense, including The Presence, Black Lightning, Guardian, The Homing, and most recently Shadow Sister. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling serial thriller The Blackstone Chronicles, initially published in six installments, but now available in one complete volume. Mr. Saul divides his time between Seattle, Washington, and Maui, Hawaii.
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Read an Excerpt


It was still alive.

She could feel it inside her. It was moving again, twisting and writhing in her belly.

She'd hoped it would die.

Hoped. And prayed. Since the moment she first felt it inside her, she'd fallen to her knees, begging God to deliver her from the evil within her--desperate prayers that continued through long days and longer nights. Sleep never came, for she dared not ever let down her guard, not ever relax her vigilance against the evil even for a few seconds of blessed release from the terror. Lying awake on dank sheets, listening to the whine of insects beyond the window, how many times had she gotten up from her bed in the meanest hours to stand at the window, gazing out into the black abyss, wondering if she shouldn't open the screen and let the predators in?

Once, she slashed through the mesh with ragged nails, ripping the screen to shreds, tearing open her nightgown as if to a lover, presenting her tortured body to the horde of tiny creatures that spewed forth from the night to settle on her skin in a thick and pulsating scum: clinging to her with piercing barbs; miring in the oily sweat that oozed from her; pricking with stinging needles. Producing a thrill of pain as she willed them to suck out her blood, and along with it, the evil that pervaded her every pore.

But the vileness within her had prevailed, as even against her own will she swept the insects away, slammed the window shut, and stood beneath a scalding shower for hours in a vain attempt to cleanse herself of the poisons.

She had returned to the bed, cursing herself and the man who lay beside her, but most of all cursing the disease that ruled her.


Truly, that was what it was: an illness cast upon her in retribution for sins so vile that she had repressed even their faintest memory, leaving only the corruption inside, the monstrous horror that was metastasizing through her, consuming a little more of her every day.

"Dear God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

The words--the cry of anguish that should have shattered the very air--dribbled from her lips like the mewling of a baby, a pitiful, weak sound, but enough to drive the life within her wild. It sent her screaming and stumbling from the house, where her balance deserted her and she dropped to her knees, skinning them on the harsh paving of the driveway. Moaning, she sprawled out, and for the tiniest moment of ecstasy thought she might be dying. Then the fury within her eased, and after a while her ragged panting mellowed into a rhythmic breath. Deliverance was not yet at hand. She struggled back to her feet and stood staring at the house.

She had thought it beautiful once, with its high-peaked roof and many gables, the broad veranda that wrapped around it with the fullness of a petticoated skirt, the shutters and gingerbread that decorated its face like the millinery of an age gone by. Now, though, she saw the fancywork for what it was: a veil that only barely covered the wickedness that lay within; a mask peeling back to reveal the slatternly face of a whore.

A whore like me.

The words rose unbidden from the depths of her subconscious, in a choking sob.

The evil within her tested its strength, and the woman's body convulsed.

She staggered forward, driven by pain. At the foot of the steps leading to the veranda--and the cavernous rooms beyond--she stopped.

Not inside.

The certain knowledge that something was different, had changed in the seconds since she'd fled outside, made her turn away.


It's behind the house.

As if under the power of an unseen force, the woman slowly groped her way around to the back of the house. The sun, close to its zenith now, beat down on her, making her skin tingle and burn in an angry, itching rash that spread scarlet from her belly across her torso, down her arms and legs, like claws scraping at her from the inside, pushing to tear free from the confines of her body.

Then she saw it.

Her hands rose reflexively to her face as if to blot out the vision before her, or even to tear her eyes from her head. Then they dropped away, and she gazed unblinking at the specter beneath the ancient magnolia tree that spread its limbs over the area beyond the house.

It was the man.

The man she had married.

The man who had brought her to this house.

The man who had delivered the disease upon her.

The man who had lain unconscious beside her as she'd prayed for a salvation she knew would never come.

Now he was gone, his body, stripped naked of even the tiniest shred of clothing, hung from the lowest branch of the tree, a thick hempen rope knotted tightly around his neck.

His head hung at an unnatural angle, and his lifeless eyes were fixed upon her with a gaze that chilled the remnants of her soul.

The knife with which he'd slit open his own belly was still clutched in the stiffened fingers of his right hand, and his entrails lay in a bloody tangle below his dangling feet.

A swarm of flies had already settled on his disemboweled corpse; soon their eggs would hatch, releasing millions of maggots to feast upon him.

He had found his escape.

He had left her alone.

Alone with the disease.

Nearly doubled over by a spasm of terror and revulsion, the woman turned away and lurched toward the shelter of the house.

Muttered words, unintelligible even to herself, tumbled from her lips. By the time she escaped the brilliant noon sun, her entire body was trembling.


Got to hide.

Hide from him.

Hide from it.

The corruption inside leaped to life again and, no longer aware of where she was or what she was doing, she obeyed the dictates of the foulness within.

A door opened before her, and she stumbled, then fell, plunging into the shadowy darkness, feeling blackness surround her, welcoming the release of death.

Her body slammed against the coldness of the cellar floor. She lay still. Against her will, her heart once more began to beat, her lungs to breathe.

And now the final agony--the agony she had always known would come.

It arrived as a point of white heat deep within, which spread and burned as it raced through her, igniting every nerve in her body into a fiery torment that sent a scream boiling up from her throat, instantly followed by a stream of vomit.

Every muscle in her body cramped. Limbs thrashing, hands and feet lashing out as if at some unseen tormentor, she was engulfed by the growing pain.

"NOOOooo ..." The single cry of anguish burst from her, then trailed off into hopeless silence.

For a long time she lay unmoving, as the fire withdrew, leaving at last an absence of pain. A blank emptiness where the disease had been.

She pulled herself up and gazed at the tiny thing that lay between her legs.

Still covered with bloody tissue, the baby stretched its tiny arms, as if reaching toward her.

The woman stared at it, then reached out and picked it up.

She cradled it in her left arm, and with the fingers of her right hand she stroked its face.

Then, her eyes still fixed upon the infant, her fingers closed around its neck.

She began to squeeze.

As her fingers tightened, she heard herself say the familiar words that lifted her spirit and filled her soul with peace. "Our Father, who art in Heaven ..."

The baby thrashed against her grasp, its fingers instinctively pulling at her own.

"... Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us ..."

The baby's tiny fingers fell away from hers; its struggles weakened.

"... Deliver us from evil."

The movements stopped. The infant lay still in her hands.


They found her just after sunset.

She was still praying, but of the baby, there was no trace to be found. Indeed, it was as if the infant had never existed at all.

She offered no resistance when they lifted her to her feet, none as they led her from the house and put her in the ambulance.

As the ambulance drove away, she did not look back.

Her face was serene; she hummed softly to herself.

Deliverance, finally, was hers.



Janet Conway felt the first flush of humiliation even before the clerk spoke. She was already calculating the amount of cash in her wallet as he picked up the phone and listened to what Janet had long ago come to think of as the Voice. The Voice was always the same. Perfectly pleasant. Perfectly reasonable. So familiar she could easily have limned a sketch of the face that belonged to it--a bland face, mostly round, with the kind of soft features that were the most difficult to draw, and devoid of any emotion whatsoever. The pronouncement of the Voice would be final: "The credit limit is exceeded."She felt her face redden with embarrassment. You should be used to it by now, she told herself. After all these years, you should expect it. Unwilling to meet the clerk's eyes, she scanned the meager pile of supplies she'd put into her shopping basket: five tubes of paint, three of them shades of blue. She really needed only the cobalt. And she could do without two of the brushes, but the other one was absolutely necessary.

More necessary than food for tonight?

Her flush deepened, her humiliation turning into anger. Her gaze shifted from the artists' supplies on the counter to the young man--no more than two or three years older than her twins--who looked even more embarrassed than she felt. "It's not your fault," she assured him. And it's not mine, either, she could have added, but didn't. "We don't air our dirty laundry in public," her mother's voice--stilled by cancer five years ago--echoed in her mind. "I'm sure it's just a mix-up," she told the clerk, forcing a smile that she hoped might cover her true emotions, and imagining her mother's nod of approval. "I'll pick these things up this afternoon." As she strode from the shop and out into the sweltering Louisiana morning, she felt the clerk's gaze following her, and knew the young man didn't believe she'd be back any more than she did.

Maybe some afternoon next week, but certainly not this one.

She listened to the engine crank on her old Toyota, praying it would catch since there was no more chance her Visa card would be accepted at the garage than at the art supply store. Finally, she released the breath she hadn't realized she was holding as the motor sputtered into reluctant life.

Though the market was her next stop, and she knew the kids would be expecting her, she turned the car in the opposite direction, deciding it was more important to deal with the credit card issue right now than to put it off until Ted came home from work. If he came home, she thought, which was, as always, an everyday question in her life.

The Majestic Hotel might have been the pride of Shreveport--as its marquee proudly proclaimed--once upon a time, but once upon a time had been a long time ago. Parking in front of the ugly brick building in defiance of a GUESTS ONLY sign, Janet hesitated in front of the building, taking a last deep breath of fresh air against the stale cigarette odor she knew she would find inside, then pushing open the dirt-filmed glass door into the lobby. What next? she wondered as she stepped over a large tear in the threadbare carpeting. At least the last hotel in which Ted worked had managed to keep its lobby looking decent. Where would he wind up after this?

She didn't even want to think about it.

As she started toward the assistant manager's office, the desk clerk gave her a brief nod. "He ain't in his office, Miz Conway." He cocked his head toward the bar. "He's on break." Her anger, which had settled to a low smolder, flared up again. The desk clerk's lips twisted into a knowing smirk. "Been on break for about an hour now."

Once again Janet heard her mother's remembered voice in her head: "Don't kill the messenger just because you don't like the message!" She nodded a barely perceptible thanks to the clerk as she veered off toward the bar and a moment later stepped into its smoky interior. Half a dozen early drinkers littered the length of the bar. A bleached blonde of about forty, encased in a dress two sizes too small for her ample body, peered blearily at Janet just long enough to satisfy herself that she still had no competition in the room, then returned to her seduction of the shabbily dressed men sitting next to her. Apparently, she thought, the Majestic couldn't even attract a decent class of hooker anymore.

Spotting her husband on the second stool from the end of the bar, Janet brushed by the aging prostitute and took a stance in front of Ted with her arms crossed.

"It happened again," she said, lowering her voice so the bartender couldn't hear her. She could tell by Ted's expression that he knew exactly what she was talking about. To his credit, he at least didn't try to deny it.

"I ran short of cash," he told her. His eyes met hers, and, as always, the look of contrition on his face--the genuine sorrow in his chestnut eyes--chipped away at her anger. "All I put on it was a hundred."

"But it was a hundred more than we could afford," Janet objected, her voice rising more than she'd intended.

Tony, who was lazily rinsing glasses in the sink behind his bar, glanced their way. "And it's a hundred less than Ted owes."

Janet bit her lip, and Ted winced visibly.

"Look, honey, I'm really sorry. But you know how it is--"

"No, I don't know how it is," Janet interrupted, her anger flooding back in the face of his automatic expectation that no matter how bad things got, she would always understand. "I don't know why you keep on drinking up your paycheck every week when we barely have enough money to pay the rent and eat, let alone keep the car running and keep me in art supplies." She regretted the last words the moment they came out, for the look in Ted's eyes told her she'd offered him an escape.

"If you earned enough with your paintings, maybe I wouldn't have to pay for the supplies--" he began, but she didn't let him finish.

"The last three canvases I sold paid off the credit cards and bought the kids their Christmas presents. And if I have to, I can borrow some money from Keith at the gallery, since he's sure he won't have any trouble selling the two I'm working on." She hesitated, even tried to hold the next words back, but her anger won out. "And if I have to borrow money from Keith, you'd better believe I'm going to tell him why I need it. I'm not

going to make up any stories to cover for you." Her voice was rising, and suddenly everyone at the bar was looking at her. She could hear her mother clucking with disapproval, but she ignored the warning. "Is that what you want, Ted? Do you want me to start telling everyone why the credit cards are maxed out and the checks are starting to bounce again?" She glanced around the seedy bar and shook her head in disgust. "Even the manager of this place won't want you working for him anymore."

The look of sorrow was back in his eyes. "I'll stop," he promised. "I swear to God, hon, I won't have another drink until every bill we have is paid off." He fumbled in his pocket, pulled out his wallet, and handed her all the cash he had. "Take it," he said. "Take it all. Maybe it'll be enough for whatever you need."

Janet gazed at him for a long time. Even in the dim light of the bar, she could see the pain in his expression. Beneath the erosion alcohol had carved on his features, the remains of the boyish looks that had first attracted her to him were still visible. She reached out as if to take the money, but her hand fell back to her side and she shook her head. "It's not the money, Ted," she said, her anger finally draining away. "It's you. I don't want your money. I want you." Turning away from her husband, Janet fled the dim bar, emerging into the light and heat of the morning.

At least I didn't cry, she told herself as she got back in the Toyota. At least I didn't let any of them see me cry.

But as she drove away, the tears she'd managed to control in the bar finally overcame her, running freely down her face.

Ted Conway watched his wife hurry out of the bar, then pushed his empty glass away, stood, and shoved his wallet back in his pocket. But before he could start back to his office, his eye fell on the empty glass.

He looked at it for a long time, knowing he should leave it where it was and go back to work. Instead he sat back down on the stool and nudged the empty glass toward Tony. "I guess one more won't hurt, will it?"

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Interviews & Essays

On Thursday, June 24th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed John Saul to discuss THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL.

Moderator: Welcome, John Saul! We are so pleased that you could join us tonight to discuss your just-released novel, THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL. How are you this evening?

John Saul: I'm fine and very glad to be here!

Marco Aurelio from Fortaleza, Brazil: Hello there, Mr. Saul! I'm glad you are here tonight. I've been reading your books since my teens, and I really enjoy them, scary stories that make me jumpy. You are one of my favorite authors in the genre, along with the wonderful Dean Koontz and bestselling unfortunately hurt author Stephen King. I want to ask you: 1) What keeps you writing? Is it really money, as I heard? 2) Who are your favorite authors in the genre you write?

John Saul: I've always been a writer, and I've been in the fortunate position of being able to make a living at it. So, in a way, I do write for the money, but I also love telling the stories. As for who my favorites are in the genre, I don't read the genre, because I'm far too much of a chicken!

Andy from Hoboken, NJ: I see that you wrote a serial novel. How is that process different than writing a full-length novel like THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL?

John Saul: The serial novel was actually six small novels connected by an overarching story. It was great fun to write, but also a bit scary, since Ballantine was actually publishing the book before I was finished writing it. There's a big difference in writing a single story, since it has to be much more complex than any of the six small tales of Blackstone were.

Greg from Southport: What inspired the story line of RIGHT HAND OF EVIL? How long did it take you to write? I know you are known for your speed!

John Saul: THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL was actually a twist on a very old tale, which, for those who haven't yet read it, I won't reveal here. It took about two months to write the manuscript, but that was after several months of thinking, scratching my head, and working on the outline.

Morgan from Bastrop, LA: How did you get your first book published? Also, what advice would you have for an unpublished author? Also, how do you think your relationship with your editor has changed over the years? Do you think the editor/author relationship is changing as we speak?

John Saul: I was lucky enough to find an agent who believed in me, who found an editor who also believed in me. I think that's still the best way to go about getting published. Of course, you have to have something to show the agent and the editor, so I kept writing and writing and writing and writing.... I threw away about half a dozen novels without showing them to anyone. My relationship with my editor went on for nearly 25 years and was fabulous. Then Ballantine fired her a few months ago, so I have no idea what my relationship with my new editor will be. I do think, though, that few editors do much editing anymore. They acquire projects and then publish them, but I've been told their editing skills are a tad weak. I shall see -- and report more later...

Sam from Tampa: Would this be a good book for a teenager?

John Saul: Absolutely! It's fast-moving, very interesting, very scary, and not particularly violent.

Pac87@aol.com from xx: I have read every one of your books and loved them all. I can't wait to read the new one! I also know your niece, Allison Williams! Question: Why haven't they made more of your books into movies?

John Saul: I think Hollywood has a problem with as much plot as I tend to come up with. The simpler the story, the better the movie, and my stories are usually far from simple.

Kate from San Francisco: Any particular reason that most of your novels involve children? Are you a kid at heart yourself? Love your books. Keep writing!

John Saul: I just sort of started writing about kids and kept on going. Also, the nice thing about writing children is that you can have the hero of the piece also be the villain, since kids are never held responsible for their own actions. And what do you mean, a kid at heart? I'm only 18, for heaven's sake....

Jan from New York: You are so prolific, John -- 20 or so books. How do you keep this pace up and constantly generate intricate new book ideas?

John Saul: I wish I knew! Sometimes it seems like there aren't going to be any new ideas, but somehow one always turns up in the nick of time. I get them from everywhere -- someone I see or a conversation I overhear or a report on the news or even a strange-looking building can cue an idea.

Sam from Seattle: Critics like to bash horror books as a genre. Does this bother you, as it does other writers, like Stephen King?

John Saul: Ah, the old critics question. My feeling is that the best thing for an author to do is simply ignore all the critics, on the theory that if you're going to dismiss the bad reviews, you can't believe the good ones either. Since I've had rave reviews and terrible reviews (often on the same book), I tend to ignore it all.

Jeremy Lybarger from Ohio: THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL, as well as many of your other novels, explores religious themes quite deeply. What are your own religious beliefs?

John Saul: More and more I'm coming to believe that all religion is nothing more than superstition. One man's faith is another man's nonsense, and as far as I'm concerned, everyone should be free to believe whatever they choose to believe. As for myself, I tend to believe that which I can see, hear, feel, and understand. If there is a "higher reality," which I tend to believe there probably is, I think it's so far beyond our ability to understand that it isn't worth theorizing about, let alone fight wars or persecute your neighbors over!

Ellen Wood from Portland, ME: With all the horrific shootings lately and the government increasingly cracking down on the violence in movies and video games, do you think this crackdown would ever carry over to the horror genre? Do you think public pressure against excessive violence could affect the horror genre as a whole?

John Saul: I think people are always looking for simple answers to complex questions, and certainly always looking for scapegoats. I find it fascinating that the government wants to crack down on the media, when it's so obvious that the real problem is that we all live in a very complex world that takes up so much time and energy from everyone that most parents these days simply don't have enough time even to keep track of what their children are doing, let alone give them the love and guidance they need. As for the government cracking down on books, it's been tried, but it never works out too well. For some reason, writers keep on writing, and readers keep on reading. And contrary to some opinions, most readers know the difference between reality and a made-up story.

Hank from Reno, TX: In your opinion, what horror movie translated well from book to screen?

John Saul: Don't ask me! I couldn't even watch "The Exorcist"!

Monica from Reno: Do you have a favorite among your books? A character you are particularly attached to? My favorites are SLEEPWALK and SECOND CHILD.

John Saul: Amazingly enough, SLEEPWALK is my all-time favorite, followed by BLACK LIGHTNING. SECOND CHILD was great fun, since I never quite figured out whether the ghost was real or not.

Martin from Montreal: Have you ever used a pseudonym?

John Saul: Yes. Two. And they shall remain pseudonyms.

Jeremy Lybarger from Ohio: I've noticed that many of your books deal with children in peril. Do you feel the innocence and vulnerability of children enhance the often violent actions surrounding them?

John Saul: I think children's imaginations can make for more interesting stories. A kid hears something at the window at night, and five or six horrible things come to mind in a second. A grown-up hears the same noise, and knows it's just the wind. Or is it?

Linda from Massachusetts: I am a 40-something housewife, mother of one and grandmother of two. Am I truly "demented," as my husband so often says I am, because you are my absolute, positive, without a doubt most favorite author of all time?!

John Saul: Of course you're not demented! How could anyone even suggest such a thing about someone who is obviously as brilliant, perceptive, and discerning as you?

Pam from Cary, IL: You say you don't read other authors in the genre -- what type of books do you read and by whom?

John Saul: I always liked international spy thrillers. Early Ludlum was one of my all-time favorites. I'm having a terrific time right now with David Baldacci's THE SIMPLE TRUTH.

Mary from Baltimore, MD: Your books are so smoothly crafted, the writing seems effortless. Do you go through many drafts? Do you use plot outlines?

John Saul: I use highly detailed plot outlines, once even running to 60-odd (very odd) single-spaced pages. I don't do a lot of drafts. The one time I did a major rewrite before showing the manuscript to my editor, she demanded the original, then told me I'd taken out the good stuff. Now I do my job and let the editor do hers.

Niki from Niki_palek@yahoo.com: Do you personally believe that ghosts really do in fact exist?

John Saul: Mostly not, but sometimes yes. It's one of those eternal questions, like why did the chicken cross the road?

Beth from Allentown, PA: I noticed that THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL doesn't seem as violent as some of your previous novels. Any particular reason? With all the public shootings lately, do you think readers will turn away from excessive violence in books? Do you feel pressure to make your books less violent?

John Saul: I deliberately made my books less violent years ago when I discovered how young some of my readers are. I still kill people off fairly regularly, of course, but I try not to dwell on the gore. I prefer the slow build of scare, when you hear the twig cracking underfoot in the forest at night, or you know someone is sneaking up behind you, just like they are right now. No, don't look. If you look, Lord knows what might happen...

Jeremy Lybarger from Ohio: Your previous book, THE PRESENCE, dealt more with science fiction concepts than with "horror." Do you see yourself exploring new fictional territories?

John Saul: I sort of go back and forth between ghost stories and technothrillers (a term I coined years before Tom Clancy even showed up on the book scene!), and the scary part of it all is that all too often, I seem to get it right. Or at least, half-right! Sometimes I think there's a great body of all knowledge floating around that all writers tap into, so that fiction isn't really fiction at all, but merely stories the press never bothered to report on.

Pam from Cary, IL: How much input do you have in the book-cover artwork?

John Saul: I have what is known as "cover consultation privileges." That means that if I happen to be in New York and happen to go into Random House, and they happen to be working on the cover, I'm welcome to compliment them on what they're doing. The truth is, I've always liked the covers they come up with, and the one time I had a real problem (they put the wrong kind of volcano on the first version of the cover for THE PRESENCE) they were more than willing to change it.

Ellen from Wisconsin: I'm a member of your fan club. Can you tell me what the surprise gift is going to be for filling out your survey?

John Saul: A recently discovered page from the old Conway family Bible, with an entry that no one has seen before...

Grace from Miami, FL: I've read about 90 percent of your books. When is the next one?

John Saul: Read the other 10 percent first! Actually, the next one should be coming out sometime next summer.

Marcus from Greensburg: I liked your twin characters, Jared and Kim. Are you by chance a twin or know some twins?

John Saul: I'm not a twin, but my best friend from high school was a twin. He and his brother were nothing alike, though, and certainly didn't have a trace of the "twin thing" that Jared and Kim shared.

Mark from Richmond: What inspired your six-part serial THE BLACKSTONE CHRONICLES? I loved them! John, do you prefer writing serials over single books? What are the advantages of serials?

John Saul: Actually, THE BLACKSTONE CHRONICLES were inspired by the idea for the CD-ROM game, although the game took far longer to produce than the books. As for the advantages of serials, I'm not sure there are any! For the writer, it means coming up with a lot more ideas, and for the publisher, it means publishing half a dozen books instead of just one. I'm not sure either I or my publisher would have done it at all if we'd realized just what we were letting ourselves in for. And my staff has informed me they'll go on strike if I ever even think of writing another serial.

Joe from Metairie, LA: Why did you decide to pick the Pelican State as a setting for this new one? I am very anxious and excited to read it.

John Saul: Actually, your state was a latecomer. The tale started out in Connecticut, then moved south to Georgia, then wandered through Arkansas and Alabama before finally settling in Louisiana. I can't give you a rational reason for all this -- it's just that a story always works best where it's most comfortable, and RIGHT HAND just wanted to be down there with you.

Marsha from Chicago: You write really effectively about alcoholism in THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL...was someone close to you an alcoholic so that you could observe what it was like to go off the wagon?

John Saul: I remember some stories of friends who had alcoholic parents, and years ago I worked in a recovery program. Also, I've nursed the occasional hangover in my time...

Colleen from Louisiana: Where do you think horror is going as a genre? What can we expect in the next millennium?

John Saul: I don't know where horror's going, but I'm going to Maui!

Sal from Kendal, FL: I need to know! What were Jared and his father going to do with George's right hand? Please tell me!

John Saul: That would be like a magician giving away his secrets. (Also, I'm not sure what they were going to do with it. It just seemed like a good idea to cut it off, given that it was the title of the book and all like that there...)

Jake from Great Falls: What was the worst job you ever held? Can you imagine yourself doing anything other than writing?

John Saul: The absolute worst was working in a salmon cannery. I had to shove racks of dead fish into a pressure cooker the size of a room, and I was sure the door was going to close and I'd wind up in a can along with the fish. I quit after four hours. As for doing something other than writing, I'm not sure anyone would pay me to do anything else!

Kim from Philadelphia, PA: First, I would just like to say thanks for scaring the life out of me. Second, I would like to know where you get your ideas for your books.

John Saul: See transcript.

Pam from Cary, IL: What kind of research, if any, do you do for your books? You seem to have picked up a theme about "nuthouses" in the most recent work and in THE BLACKSTONE CHRONICLES -- have you spent time in one?

John Saul: Tut! Don't be rude! As for research, I do as little as possible. That's the great thing about fiction -- they actually pay you to lie! No, I haven't been in a nuthouse yet, but life is long... .

Katie from Austin: Can you give us a little sneak preview of the novel you say will be out later?

John Saul: No!

Charlie from Homestead, FL: Where was this book written? Where on earth did you come up with the idea for this book? It was great!

John Saul: This one was written in Hawaii, on the bus I travel on, and various other places. See the transcript on the genesis of the idea.

Tami from Massachusetts: Do you plan on making any public appearances in New England in the near future? I would love to meet you up close and personal!

John Saul: Nothing is currently scheduled for New England, but you never know...

Pam from Cary, IL: I'm about halfway through your new book so I don't understand the significance of the title yet -- can you give us a clue why the "right" hand versus the "left"?

John Saul: Everybody always uses the left. I just thought I'd be different. Besides, haven't you ever heard all those phrases about "right-hand man," "good right arm," et cetera, et cetera, et cetera?

Lory from Roma, Italy: I'm Italian. Please, what kind of book is THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL?

John Saul: Well, you might not want to send a copy to the pope...

Kim from Philadelphia, PA: What book do you consider to be your best?

John Saul: Absolute best? BLACK LIGHTNING. Absolute favorite? SLEEPWALK.

Roger Eber from Nebraska: THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL seemed to illustrate a link between sex and religion and sex and death. Is this to imply that a consequence of sex is death, as the vampire myths supposedly teach us?

John Saul: Oh, please...

Lisa from Chicago: Any chance that you will write about anything in Chicago? There's always funky things going on here...

John Saul: My dad's from Park Ridge, and I spent a spring in Chicago when I was a student. Granted, it's funky, but it's not "my kind of town." (Mine are always a lot smaller!)

Kim from Philadelphia, PA: Do you plan on coming to Philadelphia for a book signing? It would be a great honor to meet you in person.

John Saul: No plans for Philadelphia at the moment, but who knows what lurks in the future?

Moderator: Thank you, John Saul, for chatting with us this evening! Before you go, do you have any closing remarks for your online audience?

John Saul: It was great fun joining you all this evening, and I thank you for listening to me. (Reading me? Whatever...)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 80 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 80 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2008

    John Saul....

    At first I was kinda skeptical of this book. Because I had already read one of his books and did not enjoy it at all. I begun this book and to be honest and I know this sounds so cliche but I couldn't put it down.This book mark me as a new member of the John Saul fan club. I give this book 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who like creepy books. I was amazed at how much this book gave me the chills. This book is a twist between religion and satanism, I also like how John Saul gave the history of some of characters. The books starts off with a man name Ted Conway who is a drunk and loses his job. He has a wife name Janet and 3 lovely kids. They inherit this big spoke y Victorian house. All their lives take a turn for the worse when they move in this house. Anyone who is skeptical about John Saul please read this novel it will DEFIANTLY change your opinion about his works.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Could not put the book down.

    This was book was a very good read. I found myself getting caught up in the story and could not wait to turn the next page. I was not fond of the sacrifice of animals, but if you can get past that, you will find that the story is very well told. I suggest that if you have not read this book, do, but do not read it in the dark.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2000

    Pretty good, but...

    compared to some of his older books, like BrainChild, Shadows and When the Wind blows, or NATHANIEL(one of my favorites) it pales quickly. If you like John Saul, I think that you should read those first. And I'm a BIG fan.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2000


    Ted Conway has inherited his dead aunt Cora's house, and after convincing his family that a move is what he needs to get his life together, they settle into the aunt's spooky house. Once in the house Ted begins finding out that his ancestors had many dark secrets, and the house has a history of madness and murder. John Saul is an EXCELLENT horror writer and this novel is one of his best. The pacing is fast, the characters interesting, and the plot creepy. 'The Right Hand Of Evil' is a non-stop read that you will not be able to put down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Gothic ghost story

    John Saul has written a gothic ghost story that in some ways misses the mark in creepy things that go bump in an old house. Much of a story like this takes place in the readers mind reminding them of how they feared the dark and unknown as a child.. He needed a bit more of a psychological component within the story that takes the reader into their own primal fear. I have read other Saul books in the past, but don't think this story is one of his best. I wouldn't recommend the book for anything more than it is. A fair read, but not great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Beginning and end were Could not wait for it to be over

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2011

    Exactly what I was looking for...

    Was this a bit predictable? Yes. Do I care? No. I was looking for a Haunted House / Haunted Family story and this delivered. Maybe I'm just jaded by films but the gory aspect really is not that bad considering. This was my first John Saul book and definitely has now put him on my radar. I liked the characters although I was a little put off by what the wife was willing to go through with her husband in the beginning. Once they moved in to the mansion I was able to overlook her weak character once she became less of a focus. I gave it 4 stars because it was exactly what I wanted but would have gave it 5 if it had a little extra to blow me away.

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I liked it but...

    I really enjoyed this book except when it got to sections involving some terrible things happening to animals and children. I had to skim over those parts because I hate to hear about that kind of thing. Other than that I couldn't put the book down.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    One of my all time favorites

    After reading this by chance (years ago), I find myself searching for more of the same from John Saul. This will get you hooked. It is worth buying.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    The story is about a family who inherits a home from a aunt whom has just died. She spent her adult life in a sanatorium thought to be insane, the family has no other choice but to live in the mansion due to there circumstances dads a drunk, mom is at her wits end and twin teenagers and a little girl name Molly. The town do not want the family there and are trying everything the can to stop the family from turning the mansion into a hotel and get them to leave. The secret is the family has a long history of Vodoo and death, mysteries unsolved for years and years, the men in the family all seem to be doomed or is it something else, vodoo? curses? The story is good with lots of twists and turns, scary its a page turner.

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  • Posted November 24, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    John Saul is a great author and has many good ideas for his books. 'The Right hand of Evil' was pretty good, but it was hard for me to get into at first. The characters were good, the Dad suddenly going from alcoholic to this great father, and then the son Jared going from this great kid to an evil dooer. The plot was right on key but I found myself not to excited about the book. I think if the author put a little more time into it and made it just a bit scarier then it would have been better for me. All fans should read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2008

    I loved this read!

    This book was the first John Saul book I've read, but I loved it and will be back for more. I read it within a week. I liked the plot and I got it, sorry to those of you out there who didn't! A Must Read!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2007


    This is the first book I've read with John Saul, and I thought it was really good.It was quite intense.It was easy reading, and just one of those books that is pretty much glued to your hand.It definitely had some rather gruesome scenes, though it really wasn't that bad.The family situation in the beginning is relatable by many Dad who drinks and spends alot of money on liquor, mom who has to take care of three kids as well as keep the house in order. Normal right? Right. When Ted and Janet Conway and their kids (twins Kimberley and Jared and 1 1/2 year old Molly) move into Ted's deceased aunt's mansion, things really don't seem that odd.That starts a month or two after they've lived there.It kept you hanging up until the last couple of chapters, where the story itself became a little old and somewhat slow. Otherwise, I would recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2005

    struggled to get thru it...

    I just had a hard time getting into this book. First I've read from this author. It just seemed so slow paced, took forever to get anything going. Just didn't click.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2005

    Scream for the children!

    I don't know where he comes up with these ideas. It is scary but I love it. John has a mind I have never encountered before. He opens doors within your mind you don't even know exist. This book is scary. The things that are done within their pages are horrifying, but will keep you turning page after page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2005

    major disappointment!

    good premise however I'd hoped for something scary with more follow through. It could have been so much more. alot of the connections with characters never panned out and it ended without really explaining what happened and why. Finished the book and wondered how this related to that etc..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2003

    John Saul does it again

    I am a huge fan of John Sauls books. He never lets his readers down. This was a great book could not put it down. Scarey Scarey!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2003

    A really good book!

    I read this book in a week, it was that good! Saul has a smooth writing style that keeps you glued to the page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2003

    Great book!

    This is the first book that I have ever actually sat down and read all the way through without stopping. The book was hard to put down because it was just chapter after chapter of surprises. I strongly believe that this book should be made into a movie. It is awesome.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2003

    John Saul's Best Book Yet!

    I have always been a fan of John Saul, and have always enjoyed his masterpieces and have almost all of his books. However, once I got this book, I couldn't put it down, no matter how tired I got. It was the only book that has ever truly scared me. The lights stayed on the night I finished the book.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 80 Customer Reviews

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