Gary A. Braunbeck
Trade Paperback/354 pages
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". . . a cautionary fable that . . .bids us keep careful watch lest fantasy become fact."
Mr. Hands: A blood-curdling tale of child abuse, murder, and real life monsters.
A stranger walks into a bar in Ohio with a travel worn backpack and a tale that he says makes doctors pull out the drugs and refer him to psychiatrists. When the man goes to the restroom the owner, Grant McCullers, calls his friends, a minister and the sheriff, and all four men sit down and listen to the stranger.
He starts his story by demonstrating his knowledge of palmistry and pulling out a hand-carved toy of a figure with a skull’s head and short stubs for legs that balances on two enormous gloved hands, Mr. Hands. Thus begins a tale of intrigue, mystery, and terror that challenges the three men’s conception of reality and lays bare the heart and creation of a monster.
Stories of fantastic monsters that pale in comparison to the evil of child abusers are becoming commonplace. But Gary A. Braunbeck offers a completely different perspective in Mr. Hands, showing how monsters are created from a sense of justice and an overwhelming feeling of impotent rage gone berserk.
Braunbeck takes his story backward and forward in time, maintaining strong control of the narrative arc and immersing the reader in truth and fiction, as well as fantasy and ghastly reality ripped from newspaper headlines that both fascinates and repels. Despite the changes in perspective and narrative focus, Mr. Hands is a quick read that will incite your anger and make your skin crawl as you question how much is real and how much is fantasy. This is a cautionary fable that stretches the limits of the imagination and bids us keep careful watch lest fantasy become fact.
What begins as a simple confession of sorts becomes a much more complex and intricately layered yarn in Braunbeck’s capable hands. He takes simple childhood artifacts and ordinary characters through a metamorphosis that freezes the soul. Read this book with the lights on and loved ones close by.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell