The short novel is set in Shaddock Prison, a maximum security facility housing some of the most vicious, hardened criminals in the country, including the protagonist, Romero. When Romero gets a new cellmate, Danny Palmquist, he assumes the scrawny blonde kid won’t last in the hell that is Shaddock—but, he doesn’t know Danny’s dark secret and his own brand of “hell”. Whenever Danny is hassled or harmed, Danny’s brother takes bloody revenge on his oppressors. Despite the bars and walls, there is no escape from the horror unleashed every night as Danny sleeps. And the deaths are supremely gruesome.
Curran steers clear of prison clichés here, yet successfully immerses the reader in the rigors and inhumanity of prison life. As the lead character, Romero is a believable, complex character, but he is far from the convict with the heart of gold. He intercedes in defense of Danny, although it is likely to mean his own death, even before he discovers Danny’s true nature. But, even then, Romero’s motives are largely self-serving and more out of a sense of fairness than any real concern for Danny’s well-being. In Curran’s deft hands, the characters are well-defined, and the plot—while outlandish and horrifying—is ultimately thrilling and satisfying.
Many of Curran’s stories, while not Cthulhu Mythos pastiches, often contain Lovecraftian undertones. Fear Me is no exception, and is certainly not for the faint of heart—the novel is filled with brutal violence, gore, slime, and ever-heightening suspense until the incredible climactic scenes. This is a must for Curran fans—or anyone who loves a fast-paced horror yarn!
(A version of this review was also published in the August 2011 issue of Suspense Magazine.)