❦ Stephen King apparently referred to Bentley Little as the "horror poet laureate," which is no faint praise. But I was rather disappointed with The Handyman (Baltimore: Cemetery Dance, 2017). The plot passed muster on the surface:
Young Daniel Martin and his family encounter a creepy guy who builds them a house, but the house brings sadness and death. Come to find out, this same guy has done this in many places for many families, always to disastrous effect. As an adult, when Daniel discovers his wasn't the only experience of Frank W, he is determined to get to the bottom of it. What ensues, naturally, is horror (Stephen King's compliment pretty much clued us in on this one).
Despite the many diversions, flashbacks, and parallel stories, Little moves the plot along. It's not until the very end that the reader realizes the problem: Despite the intricate detail, there's actually far too little preparation for the climax. The description of Daniel's final encounter with Frank and all he has wrought happens much too suddenly, is not described in enough depth, and comes to far too quick a conclusion.
The Handyman rolls a ⚃. Good writing, entertaining, but it comes up short in the end.