Ray Garton was here and now he's gone
He left his work to carry on
When he was good he was good as hell
Even his worst will weave a spell

I missed out on some Garton books over the years. He did a lot of publishing with the small presses, and some of it was pricey novellas and short novels. I liked Zombie Love and The Folks. The Girl from the Basement is one of the best horror novellas ever written. Vortex, for example, is only average.

I always wanted to read Ray's spider novel, 'Nids and I got the chance when Crossroads Press did reprints of almost all his work.

'Nids is, I am afraid, minor Garton. It's like he sleepwalked through this one. Oh, it's very well written. Ray was one of the best and most reliable writers in the field. Still, when I compare 'Nids with masterpieces of satire like Sex and Violence in Hollywood or Scissors; or with first rate thrillers such as Trade Secrets and Biofire, 'Nids falls short.

You know the drill. Giant spiders run amok in a small town. Readers are introduced to a cast of characters, but none are particularly well drawn or have much depth. There's some hazy explanations about a fire at a research facility, but 'Nids is mostly concerned with arachnophobic carnage.

It's a fun book, but its featherweight plot and execution keep it off the Best o' Garton lists. A cool conclusion at a drive-in theater livens things up, but it's too little and too thin to be truly satisfying.

Garton gets extra points for including brutal deaths of children and dogs, because horror should never be too easy or comforting.

For ten bucks? Eh, go for it if cheesy monster yarns with little on their minds is your thing. Don't expect a lot and you'll likely have a decent time.

Oh, one further issue: I don't mind stories with open endings. I rather enjoy them. 'Nids just seems to fall off a cliff at the end. It's so abrupt and puzzling I can't help but wonder if Crossroads send a defective file to Amazon. It wouldn't be the first time that sort of thing happened in the seedy world of POD independent publishing.

Written by Mark Sieber

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