Carl Streator is a solitary widower and fortyish newspaper reporter who is assigned to do a series of articles on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In the course of this investigation, he discovers an ominous thread: the presence on the scene of these deaths of the anthology Poems and Rhymes Around the World, all opened to the page where there appears an African chant or "culling song." This song turns out to be lethal when spoken or even thought in anyone's direction and once it lodges in Streator's brain, he finds himself becoming an involuntary serial killer. So he teams up with a real estate broker, one Helen Hoover Boyle, who specializes in selling haunted (or "distressed") houses (wonderfully high turnover) and who lost a child to the culling song years before, for a cross-country odyssey. Their goal is to remove all copies of the book from libraries, lest this deadly verbal virus spread and wipe out human life. Accompanying them on this road trip are Helen's assistant, Mona Sabbat, an exquisitely earnest Wiccan, and her sardonic eco-terrorist boyfriend, Oyster, who is running a scam involving fake liability claims and business blackmail. Welcome to the new nuclear family.
Original title: Lullaby
Genre: Fiction→ Horror→ Satanism, Demonology, and Black Magic
Fiction→ Horror→ Comic Horror
Fiction→ General Fiction→ Humor→ Satire
- Cover design by Rodrigo Corral (Anchor Books edition)
- Cover illustration by Judy Lanfredi (Anchor Books edition)
- Book design by Dana Leigh Treglia (Anchor Books edition)
- Dedication: "I dedicate this book, with special thanks, to... Jason Cheung Kyle McCormick Dennis Widmyer Amy Dalton Kevin Kölsch ...who read my stuff when nobody read my stuff."