Reviews > Published on January 10th, 2017

Bookshots: 'Fear is The Rider' By Kenneth Cook

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Fear is The Rider

Who wrote it?

Legendary Australian screenwriter and novelist, Kenneth Cook

Plot in a Box:

Yet another “unearthed” work from a major writer that should have remained buried.

Creepy yuppie, Shaw, is driving to a job interview in Southern Australia and meets an attractive young journalist named Kate in pub while they’re both stopped taking a break from the road. They chit-chat, for 20 or 30 minutes, Kate mentions that she’s going to one of the most desolate regions of the outback to gather information for an article she’s writing and then leaves. Shaw then gets into his head to follow her. As he’s passing through the region, Kate darts out of the bush, chased by a horny, bloodthirsty evolutionary holdout, who then steals Kate’s vehicle (nope, I’ve no idea how this thing knows how to drive a car) and chases after them. Lots of descriptions of the shitty roadway and traveling down it at 90 miles an hour and hilarity ensues.  

Invent a new title for this book:

The Weight Of The Sun

Read this if you like(d):

Duel By Richard Matheson and Off Season By Jack Ketchum

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Shaw: Lonely, kind of creepy yuppie who can drive off road in a Honda Civic like a demon.

Kate: Attractive and far too trusting journalist.

Horny Australian Cave Beast: Holy shit that thing can fucking drive!

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Benny Hill (As both Shaw and The Horny Cave Beast) and Ruth Buzzy.

Setting: would you want to live there?

The Australian outback? Hell, no, that shit wants to kill you.

What was your favorite sentence?

It was a smell she never encountered before. Not man, not animal, something carrion, but alive. It seemed to envelop and suffocate her, then became tangible as two arms wrapped around her body and began tearing at her clothing.

The Verdict:

Writing a chase story is hard. If you do it right, you have Richard Matheson’s classic novella, Duel. If you do it wrong, well, you get the shitty remake of The Hitcher. It’s a tough balance between action and motivation, and where most writer’s fail is the latter. They just can’t make the story believable enough and lean far too heavily on the cars whipping down the highway or isolated dirt road. The unfortunate part of Fear is The Rider by the late, legendary screenwriter and novelist, Kenneth Cook, is that this previously unpublished short novel is all repetitive action without any real meat to it.

The characters are two dimensional and the situation they find themselves in is wholly unbelievable, largely because I just found it too hard to believe that the primordial, evolutionary throwback is able to operate a motor vehicle and do so with such deadly force. To be blunt, Fear is The Rider seems almost like an exercise Cook worked on between his film work and novels; perhaps it started as a film treatment but instead became something he would occasionally work on. Overall, it’s yet another “unearthed” work from a major writer that should have remained buried.      

About the author

Keith Rawson is a little-known pulp writer whose short fiction, poetry, essays, reviews, and interviews have been widely published both online and in print. He is the author of the short story collection The Chaos We Know (SnubNose Press)and Co-Editor of the anthology Crime Factory: The First Shift. He lives in Southern Arizona with his wife and daughter.

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