One of the finest and best-selling horror novels of the 1970s returns at last to chill a new generation of readers
In the isolated farming community of Harlowe, New Hampshire, where life has changed little over the past several decades, John Moore and his wife Mim work the land that has been in his family for generations. But from the moment the charismatic Perly Dunsmore arrives in town and starts soliciting donations for his auctions, things begin slowly and insidiously to change in Harlowe. As the auctioneer carries out his terrible, inscrutable plan, the Moores and their neighbors will find themselves gradually but inexorably stripped of their possessions, their freedom, and perhaps even their lives ...
A chilling masterpiece of terror whose sense of creeping menace and dread increases page by page, Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer (1975) is a rediscovered classic of 20th-century fiction. With echoes of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Stephen King’s Needful Things, Samson’s novel returns to print at last in this long-awaited new edition, which features an introduction by Grady Hendrix (Horrorstör, Paperbacks from Hell) and an afterword by the author’s husband.
“Buy this book ... there is no way to stop reading it, once you’ve started!” – Baltimore Sun
“A well-made piece of dynamite ... For all their talk, the author seems to be saying, men will permit their souls to be carried away bit by bit and auctioned off to the highest bidder. Samson has written a suspenseful, engrossing novel with the most gripping and violent ending we’ve encountered for some time.”—Newsday
“A frightening novel . . . a powerful book from a powerful writer.”—The Grand Rapids Press
“A novel you may never forget . . . a tight classic.”—San Diego Tribune
“Brilliant, compelling . . . Add a powerful twist at the end and you have a total novel that takes hold of the reader on Page One and never lets go until the finish. This just could prove to be one of the top thrillers of the year.”—Dayton News
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Part horror, part social commentary (that may be redundant) the story covers a lot of ground in a fairly brief book. It offers a look at people's ties to the land, greed, corruption, pride and a lot more. The story is set in a small rural town, where generations of families have grown up as neighbors and have shared each other's history. But things begin to unravel when a stranger rolls into town and begins to hold auctions. First, the auctions are purportedly meant to raise money to increase a police force of one (that doesn't need increasing). Then the police force continues to increase as does the auctioneer's influence over the town. Without giving too much away, I found myself drawing parallels between this book and the rise of the Third Reich - scary stuff indeed.
This is one of the scariest books ever. There is no ghost, no monster, nothing of the kinds of things in a horror novel. The horror is what happens in a typical small town when a man moves into town and suggests having 'old-fashioned auctions' and use the proceeds to benefit the town. Things quickly change from charming and quaint to something MUCH more sinster. Read it. It would make a good movie.
I first read this book in the '70s when it was still on the Times best seller list. I took it on vacation with me and thought it might last the whole vacation. But quite the contrary, I never read a book so fast in my life. I gave my copy to several people to read, and finally lost track of it. I can hardly wait until it is re-published in August. The Auctioneer is a gripping story of what can happen in a small town at the edge of desperation. But, be careful. You may not get much sleep after you start reading it. I highly recommend it.